Jane Austen's (vegetarian) White Soup


3/4 cups blanched almonds, flaked or slivered
1 piece of white country bread or baguette (1/2 a cup, maybe? Maybe a little less) de-crusted and soaked in water
2 T olive oil
1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2 small shallots – finely diced
2 cloves garlic – finely diced
1/2 t. sage
1/2 t. thyme
1 t. rosemary
1 t. basil
red pepper flakes
1/2 t. mustard powder
dollop of butter
dash of white wine vinegar
pomegranate seeds and pistachio kernals for garnish.


Warm the olive oil in a large soup pan. Add the shallots, then the garlic, then the herbs. When everything starts to brown slightly, add the mustard powder, the pepper flakes and the white wine. Stir and cook till it’s syrupy and the pan starts to dry out again.
In a blender, combine the almonds, the bread (which has been squeezed dryish) and 2 1/2 cups water. Blend for quite a while till it’s pretty smooth.
Add the cauliflower – stir to coat and cook till it starts to brown. Add the beans. Stir and cook for a few minutes.
Pour the almond/bread mixture over the veg and beans. Add 1/2 t. salt. Stir and cook. Add enough water to make sure everything is covered with liquid, and it’s not too thick. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes, till the cauliflower is just soft.
Add a dollop of butter and a dash of vinegar.
Remove the bay leaves, and blend the soup till it’s velvety smooth.
Return to the pot. Add enough water to make everything the consistency of heavy cream. (or however thick you like it)
Serve with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and roughly chopped pistachio kernals.


This is a vegetarian reinvention of the white soup that Jane Austen writes about. It's creamy (though cream-free), pretty, and very festive with ruby pomegranate seeds and green pistachio kernals. To quote Mrs. Bennet, "this soup is mother-flipping delicious!"

Other Names:

Cauliflower white bean soup


6 servings as a starter


Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 8:10am


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