Maybe it’s the bone broth trend that has people commenting on consommé, but we’ve noticed a lot of you asking about what it is. Well, allow me to clarify. OK, that (bad) joke becomes more clear (if not more amusing) once you know that consommé is clarified meat broth.

Let’s break it down.

To make beef consommé, you start with brown stock, which is what you get when you simmer roasted beef (or veal) bones, roasted mirepoix (celery, carrots, onions), tomato puree, and some basic herbs and spices in water for hours and hours, then strain it.

This savory, collagen-rich brew is entirely delightful as it is, but in true French fashion, it can be further refined.

To turn that somewhat cloudy brown stock into clear consommé, the stock is gently simmered with a mixture of lightly whipped egg whites and lean ground meat, which congeals and floats to the surface forming what’s known as a raft. Think of the raft as the Death Star of your soup pot, dragging everything—in this case all the little solid food particles that cloud the stock–to it, like a giant protein magnet.

What’s left is a crystal clear liquid that’s traditionally served hot as a soup, or cold (because of the collagen, consommé has a gelatinous consistency when chilled) in a delicacy known as aspic. Personally, I can live without meat gelatin—my favorite way to consume consommé is to sip it straight out of a cup, Canora-style.