“By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield?—I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.”
“If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins—but 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.”
-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
1998. The year we immigrated to Australia. It was also the year our Pride and Prejudice tape was stuck on replay. It was how my mom coped with the move. It was official– Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy had moved in with us. P&P played between her art classes, after school, and every night, once my sister and I were in bed.
Eventually, I reached high school and found myself facing a library oral report on the classics. Normally not a problem EXCEPT I was going through a stage of ‘I hate reading’. The night before the report, my worried helicopter mom handed me the Pride and Prejudice book and said it was the best she could do to help. But all those nights of Pride and Prejudice playing meant I knew the story off by heart. The librarian was so impressed (maybe surprised?) by my understanding that I aced it. ( I have since read the book and my love of reading is alive and well again.)
Making this white soup makes you have a real appreciation for the amount of effort that went into cooking in Austen’s era.
It also made me realise I can’t stand the smell of boiling meat. Bleh. The first time I made it, the soup smell permeated the house and I slept that hot summer’s night with the blanket over my head. However, the end result is well worth the effort and the original smell.
- 2 soup bones with some meat on (veal as first option, beef bone as alternative)
- 2.5L water
- 2 chicken thighs
- 0.25kg bacon
- ¾ 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
- ¼lb ground sugared almonds (DIY: melt fondant, dip almonds in, let sit on baking paper to cool)
- 1 cup thickened cream
- 1 egg yolk
- In a large saucepan, simmer together the bones, water, chicken, bacon, rice, anchovies, peppercorns, herbs, onions, and celery, for two hours on low.
- Strain through a sieve into another large clean pot.
- Let it sit overnight in the fridge.
- The next morning, skim the top of the broth of any scummy bits.
- Pop in the ground sugared almonds and bring to a boil.
- Strain through a sieve so it catches the almond pieces.
- Mix together the egg yolk and cream, stir into the soup, and serve.
Alternatively, for the Jordan almonds, place in a piece of fondant and ½ to ¾ cup of almond meal.
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