Jane Austen’s (vegetarian) White Soup

cauliflower and white bean soup

As everybody knows, Mr. Bingley! (his name has to be followed by an exclamation mark – by law!) couldn’t hold a ball at Netherfield until his cook had made enough white soup. I’ve always been mildly curious about the nature of white soup. After a bit of research, I was excited to discover that this white soup is not dissimilar to a tarator sauce, comprised, as it is, of nuts and bread soaked in water. This one has almonds in it, which help to give it the lovely ivory color. The original version also had capon or gamon or something, but obviously I’m having none of that! I decided to use cauliflower, because it’s white, and it makes such a tasty puree. And I decided to use white beans. Can you guess why? That’s right! They’re white! And delicious.

I had read that white soup was traditionally garnished with pomegranate seeds and pistachio kernals. Red and green! On a beautiful, creamy pale soup! It’s the perfect Christmas dinner starter!

I have to admit that I was mostly playing around with this recipe. But it turned out to be exceptionally good to eat, too! It’s creamy and smooth, but there isn’t a jot of cream in it. In fact, if you omit the dollop of butter it would be vegan. And how did it taste? Mrs Bennet is quoted as saying, “Mr Bingley! This soup is mother-flipping delicious!!”

Here’s Nina Simone’s amazing performance of Little Liza Jane, which takes care of two Bennet sisters in one song title.
Continue reading