Every culture has a version: Vietnamese include dumplings, the Italians add beans and pasta, the Japanese make soup with rice noodles, the Polish use potatoes and cabbage, and Mexicans are famous for their menudo. Usually the ingredients are simple and accessible.
Why soup? It’s associated with so many good things: warmth, savory flavors, nutrients, comfort, satisfaction, and healing. All these qualities are connected to home and mothering. Soup is what we feed the homeless. It’s also what’s served at monasteries.
When I was a child, I’d walk into the house and would immediately know what was for dinner from the aromas wafting through the rooms. I was not always happy. If I smelled cabbage, I knew that my father wasn’t there. My mother had to economize and the best food only came out when he was home. If I smelled pea soup, my imagination conjured up images of prisons and military camps. I even got headaches as a somatic form of rebellion. But if I smelled chicken soup, usually on Sundays, I knew it would be a special day with a warm atmosphere, no work, and gathering together as family. The soup said that we were ok.
Soup is also community. A pot of soup signifies sharing—when I make soup I always make a big pot, “just in case.” There is a magical story about “stone soup” that I used to read to my very young daughter, over and over, but it was not about soup, per se. It was about sharing, group effort and coming together. The resonance for her was emotional, not intellectual.
I’ve changed my mind about the soups I used to dread. Now I love them. I like to experiment with new ingredients—spices and herbs in different combinations—every time I make a fresh pot of soup.
Here’s a simple recipe that you can make your own.
Basic Ingredients that will make broth:
When you decide what kind of soup you would like to make (depends on which veggies are ripe, or ready to go) add 50% broth, and the other 50% veggies for flavor—let’s say tomato, cauliflower, potato, squash etc. Add salt and pepper, or herbs if you’d like something more gourmet.
Combinations that work well together:
- Asparagus & leek
- Beets & porcini mushroom
- Broccoli & tomato
- Carrot & fennel
- Celery root & green apple
- Cauliflower & kale
- Eggplant & tomato
- Mushroom & zucchini
- Pepper & tomato
- Spinach & mushroom
- Tomato & cabbage
I hope you enjoy the simple abundance of your humble soup!
Do you have vivid memories and associations to soup from your childhood? Good or bad?What’s your favorite soup recipe?Like Water for Chocolate and Tortilla Soup are wonderful movies about relationships and the power of emotion and food. Do you have any food-related films you’d like to recommend?
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