It seems almost too appropriate that January is National Soup Month. With winter really settled in, we all crave something cozy, and a big bowl of something warm and tasty is the perfect prescription. The beauty of soup is that you can literally put whatever you want in it. Want to use up some stored veggies from the summer? Toss them in. Craving something creamy? Do it up.
According to a 2012 study, evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BCE. Think about that! If the average generation is about 25 years, that’s 881 generations of humans chopping things up, simmering them and then gathering around a fire (or a stove) to enjoy together. The word soup comes from French soupe (“soup,” “broth”), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop,” a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew. (While we’re on that topic, there’s no definite distinction between a soup and a stew. Generally, though, soups have more liquid – broth – than stews.)
In the U.S., the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, VA, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques. English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: “Soups and Soup Making.”
If you’re in the mood for soup but aren’t sure what to make, check out this extensive list of international soups. If that doesn’t inspire you, just open your pantry and grab some stuff. You really can’t go wrong. A bonus of making a big pot of soup: You can always freeze what’s left and enjoy it again.
(If anyone is curious, Editor Courtney’s favorite soups are a hearty tomato basil and an old fashioned chicken noodle.)