Here’s The Scoop: The History of Soup
Soups are a traditional kitchen staple. The first cookbook published in America, The Compleat Housewife (1742), contained numerous recipes for “sops” or “soops”, but soup goes back further than that. The history of soup is as old as cooking itself. And since the beginning of civilization, soup has been connected with communities.
Victoria R. Rumble, author of Soup Through the Ages, states that soup appears in ancient Egypt (3200- 3230 B.C.E.), Greece (1200-300 B.C.E.), and Rome (753-476 C.E.). Soups became the basic sustenance for groups of peasants and soldiers during this time. And in ancient Asian countries like China, doctors would prepare medicines for their patients in a soup form. Soup played an important part in their diet and in their stories as well.
In folklore, there’s a fable about a hungry traveler who cannot find a meal in a new village. The traveler sets up a pot of boiling water with a stone in the center of town and makes “stone soup.” When the locals pass and ask about his soup, the traveler would say that it was great except it was missing salt, carrots, cabbage, etc… One by one the villagers offer to bring ingredients and evidently there was a delicious soup made for everyone.
This idea of communities coming together to cook and share a meal continues to this day. In the winter time, it’s not uncommon for friends to throw soup parties where everyone brings a soup dish to share. The term “soup kitchen” has become synonymous with charity and compassion; they are places that offer food and other resources for those in need much like the traveler in the fable.
Soup isn’t just good for the community. The nutritional value makes it good for your health. And soup has served as a muse for the popular series of inspirational books, Chicken Soup For the Soul. In all, this kitchen staple has not only influenced our diet but our language and the way we commune with each other.