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Regency Recipe: White Soup

"...as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing;

and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough

I shall send round my cards.”

Mr Bingley

Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen


White Soup is a distinctly old-fashioned recipe from Austen's era. The creamy nut-meat taste of the broth today would not likely please a modern palette. In any case, it's winter and chilly so I gave this a go. It turned out more like a consomme, although it's thicker in texture because of the cream.


Ingredients:

  • 2 soup bones with some meat on (veal as first option, beef bone as alternative)

  • 2.5L water

  • 2 chicken thighs

  • 0.25kg bacon

  • 3/4 cup white rice

  • 1 anchovy or anchovy paste

  • a few pepper corns

  • thyme, bay and parsley (additional options: rosemary, marjoram)

  • 2 small/medium onions, roughly chopped

  • 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

  • 1/4lb ground sugared almonds (DIY: melt fondant, dip almonds in, let sit on baking paper to cool)

  • 1 cup thickened cream

  • 1 egg yolk


Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, simmer together the bones, water, chicken, bacon, rice, anchovies, peppercorns, herbs, onions, and celery, for two hours on low.

  2. Strain through a sieve into another large clean pot.

  3. Let it sit overnight in the fridge.

  4. The next morning, skim the top of the broth of any scummy bits.

  5. Pop in the ground sugared almonds and bring to a boil.

  6. Strain through a sieve so it catches the almond pieces.

  7. Mix together the egg yolk and cream, stir into the soup, and serve.


The taste is odd - a little too sweet than I usually like for my soups but it was creamy and very filling. I did not try the version with the fondant. I don't mind almonds but I am not a fan of fondants. With the sweetness, it's almost more of a dessert than an entree. I can see why white soup might have been popular at balls - it would have blended well with sweetmeats and some of the sweeter drinks like ratafia.



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