I would like to state the case for soup.
Lately, with our cooler weather, I have felt like something warm and satisfying. Because I don’t spend a lot of time cooking, I am always looking for nutritious meals to make that are easy and quick, in addition to being great heated up for leftovers, or sent in school lunches.
Matzo ball soup is always the big winner in our family. It is one of the only things I can make that everyone likes and that doesn’t require individual adaptations for each kid. I have such clear memories of being at my grandma’s for dinner with the whole family: aunts, uncles, cousins, and every meal starting with a big pot of her homemade matzo ball soup. It can’t be duplicated, but I can see it, smell, it, and even imagine the taste of it. I can see everyone sitting around her dining room table and the kids sitting at card tables, enjoying the soup and conversation.
At the wedding reception of my friend Michelle, everything was catered, except for a huge pot of Italian wedding soup. Her husband’s Italian grandmother insisted on making it – for more than 200 guests. It added a personal touch that only family traditions and recipes can.
Soup has been around throughout the history of cooking. It had to have come just on the heels of when humans figured out how to use fire to cook. It is in every culture. Chinese Wonton Soup, French Onion, Italian Wedding, and New England Clam Chowder, Mexican Tortilla, and Hungarian Goulash. A bridge of soup could be built that would connect the entire world.
Soup is an easy way to feed the masses. It is how soup kitchens got the name. I had a professor in college who, as a child in Austria, survived the Holocaust and found herself orphaned. She described how UNICEF saved her life by providing her with a coat, and soup each day. She shared her memories of the children lining up alphabetically in the soup line. With her last name being Werner, very little was left besides watery broth by the time she got to the front. But that soup saved her life.
And while feeding the poor and destitute, soup has never lost its appeal with the “upper crust.” The finest restaurants always have a soup du jour and fancy porcelain tureens are filled with rich soups at state or royal dinners.
This winter, I have experimented with some different recipes, and good old-fashioned vegetable soup has become a fast favorite of mine. Warmer than a salad, and even more colorful. You can make it kid friendly by adding alphabet pasta.
Gruel, stew, chowder, bisque, consommé, potage, gumbo, cioppino – it’s all a variation on the same theme. Soup nurtures our bodies. It is colorful and filling. Plus there is just something fun about serving dinner out of a big pot.
I do not feel it is too far-reaching to say that soup is one of the cornerstones of human civilization. Plus, it is a cheap and easy thing to make for dinner tonight.
Dust off your ladle, and fire up the stove. Grab a loaf of your favorite type of bread and make a pot of soup.
Simple Vegetable Soup:
Vegetable broth or chicken broth
Can of diced tomatoes
Slice carrots, celery, squash, and zucchini.
Chop onions, garlic, and tomatoes
Add everything, plus beans, can of tomatoes (with juice) and peas
Season with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Boil for five minutes, then lower heat, add spinach and simmer.
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