Soup is the ultimate winter comfort food, and perfect for today’s Snowquester…although this storm was a bit of a disappointment for a Midwesterner. I have yet to encounter a living culture that does not include some sort of soup or stew in its repertoire. Whether it’s matzah ball, miso, or minestrone, soup is everywhere. What seems like an obvious dish today is actually part of a far more complex story of human evolution and movement.
Hot liquid with ingredients…should be obvious, right? Wrong.
While humans have used hot water to heat foods since the discovery of fire, boiling ingredients in the water to create soup did not begin until around 6000 B.C.E. with the development of waterproof and heat-tolerant containers (made out of clay). As the bowl pre-dated the spoon, the first soups were slurped, and most often shared among a group of people using the same bowl.
The word soup comes from soupe, the French version of the Latin word suppa, meaning “bread soaked in broth.” Interestingly enough, the Germanic sop is a piece of bread used to soak up soup or stew. Many of the cream and broth based soups that we know about today originated in France, where medieval restaurers, or street venders, sold inexpensive broths as medicine in shops called restaurants.
When we want soup for dinner, we generally do not need to reach any further than the kitchen shelf. Campbell’s soup story began in 1869 when fruit merchant Joseph Campbell and manufacturer Abraham Anderson launched a vegetable canning business. In 1897, Dr. Dr. John T. Dorrance joined the team and invented condensed soup. Campbell’s condensed soup became a household staple and even an icon in the 1960s thanks to artist Andy Warhol’s study on the red and white label.
The invention of modern kitchen gadgets, such as the food processor and immersion blender has helped encourage a return to homemade soups. They do not have to be difficult, and are a great way to combine global flavors. Try out these recipes!
For further reading
Timeline of Campbell’s soup http://careers.campbellsoupcompany.com/who-we-are/campbell-story
This is my go-to when I want to use a variety of vegetables. If you don’t like an ingredient or don’t have it on hand, feel free to improvise! I very rarely make the same exact soup twice.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
1 large baking potato, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock or water (see note)
26 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped (use juice too)
1 rind from parmesan cheese (optional, save the cheese for grating on top of soup!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 cups chopped green of your choice (I used collard greens, but you could also try spinach, bok choy, mustard greens)
*Vegetable stock is readily available at most grocery stores, but making your own is cheaper and does not have to take long. I recommend this one.
Heat oil in a large pot and add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the carrots, parsnips, potato, and a little salt and pepper to taste. After two minutes, add the stock/water, tomatoes, oregano, and rind. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once veggies are softened, add the greens and parsley. Cook until greens wilt. Pour into bowls and serve with parmesan cheese and black pepper.
And of course, you need to have some sop to go with your soup. You could go out and buy a loaf, or…
Fast and Easy Whole Wheat Bread
1 2/3 cups low fat buttermilk
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup dark molasses
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir molasses into buttermilk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir only until incorporated. Bake at 325 degrees in a greased 9×5 inch pan for 15 minutes. Serve warm with softened butter, honey, and (of course) soup.