Mushroom white bean bisque

Mushroom white bean bisque

In art and music people speak of combinations that are almost magical. Certain musical pitches combine to make chords that profoundly affect the emotions. Certain colors, when combined, seem to hum in your vision. I believe there are flavors like that, too. Some flavors just seem to go together so perfectly that they become a more perfect whole. Sometimes it’s unexpected flavors, and I’m constantly hoping to discover some brand new-good-for-you combination that makes your taste buds do a little dance. Sometimes it’s a well-known mix of flavors that just makes sense. White beans, sage and rosemary, for instance. With olive oil and balsamic, garlic & shallots. Or mushrooms, sage and rosemary. So, I thought to myself, one long day at work, dreaming about what I’d make for dinner when I got home…why not white beans, mushrooms, sage and rosemary? I had quite a bit of couronne bread left, and I thought I’d make a soup to go with it. I like mushroom soup, but I don’t make it very often, because I use my mushrooms up so quickly in other ways. Plus, it’s hard to make it very pretty. So I decided to combine it with white beans. I know! They’re not very pretty in soup either! But…I added two handfuls of fresh baby spinach, and suddenly it was a lovely pale green color. A sage green color, appropriately! Not a hard soup to make, and very satisfying…light yet substantial, very savory and flavorful.

Here’s Hummin, by Cannonball Adderly, because that’s what the perfect combination of elements seems to do!
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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.
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