Reader’s Digest(ibles): Mr. Bingley’s White Soup

RD white soup

For the next installment of Reader’s Digest(ibles), I’m going with white soup. Originating in 17th Century France, white soup (a variation of it, at least) became a popular food to serve at balls in Jane Austen’s time. The dish is referenced in Pride and Prejudice by Mr. Bingley, as he plans the Netherfield Ball.

“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.”

When I first read the book in high school I had no idea what “white soup” could be, and given the context I initially speculated that it might be some weird term for envelope paste or something necessary for the invitations. But eventually I learned that it was an actual soup, and when considering what to make next for this series it immediately presented itself as an option. As implied by its name it’s a creamy soup, generally based on a meat stock, thickened with bread, and it includes almonds.

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