Soup. It’s food for the soul.
My legacy soup is rich, buttery red potato. You probably never heard of it. My family came from a small town in Austria-Hungry, beneath the Carpathian Mountains and near the Ukraine border. The soup was made by frying onions in sweet butter, adding diced potatoes, and paprika to turn it red. Water and tiny dough balls made it into soup.
True comfort food!
My grandmother brought the recipe with her when she arrived in New York in the early 1900s. My mother made the soup for me. Then I made it for my kids. Now my kids make it for their kids.
According to Soup Maker Guide, “every culture had its version of [legacy] soup . . . from French Onion to Russian Borscht.” Think about your favorites – Spanish gazpacho, New England clam chowder, Chinese wonton, Campbell’s cream of mushroom . . . it’s a long list. Business Wire reports nearly ninety-five percent of people “say they love or like soup.”
Soup has been around since humans devised a water-proof container to boil liquids. Many historians believe it began when the Neanderthals dug holes, lined them with animal skins, and added water, meat, bones, and plants. It was heated by hot stones plucked from the fire. Eventually waterproof clay vessels and baskets were used.
Soup developed along with humans. “Submerging food in water held more importance,” suggested the Soup Maker Guide. “It allowed the food to cook faster and thoroughly . . . [providing] for better flavors.”
Some people added roasted cereals; others preferred vegetables and starches like legumes, peas, beans, and pasta. Meat, fish, and a variety of herbs enhanced the flavor. Often fruits crept into the pot.
The middle ages expanded the potential of soup using ingredients that had been dried, roasted, salted, smoked, and preserved for the winter. Seasonal produce was incorporated based on availability.
Eventually soups were described as clear (consommés, bouillons) or thick (purees, veloutes, bisques).
Canned and dried soups entered the culinary scene. Campbell’s, perhaps the world’s best-known soup company, was founded in 1869. The company’s first canned soup was beefsteak tomato. Today Campbell’s slogan, M’m! M’m Good! is still alive along with the red-and-white can with a bronze medallion. Fifty-four million Americans eat at least one can of Campbell’s chunky soup, broth, or stock each week.
We’ve come a long way from the Neanderthals. These days there are basic soups, expensive soups, exotic soups, and just about anything you can imagine. Soup is served hot or cold, sweet or savory, homemade, canned, dried, and even as dessert.
Consider some exotic soups:
Bird’s Nest (China)
Vietnamese Blood Soup
Iguana Soup (Nicaragua)
Bat Soup (Cambodia)
Tiger Penis Soup (Asia)
Chocolate Ramen Soup (Japan)
One of the world’s most expensive soups, Talon’s Club, is made from the cordyceps fungus that lives on the backs of caterpillars and other insects (see below). According to Healthline, it may boost exercise performance, have anti-aging properties, anti-tumor effects, and help manage Type 2 diabetes and heart health. It can be found in Las Vegas for a bargain $700 per serving.
Also in this category is Vietnamese Pho Soup. It’s made with wagyu beef, white truffles, foie gras broth, bean sprouts, and lobster meat noodles. It will set you back $250 per serving.
Not to be outdone, Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup comes direct from London. It combines shark fins, sea cucumbers, Japanese flower mushrooms, scallops, pork, chicken, ginseng, abalone, and ham. One serving costs $190 [note: Shark finning – removing a shark’s fin and dumping the fish back into the water – is illegal in the U.S. while selling shark fins is illegal in Texas].
Perhaps the greatest (and simplest) legacy soup is chicken noodle. Many claim it boosts immunity, improves metabolism, and fights colds. You can get it dried, in a can, homemade, or take-out.
Smile modern-day Neanderthals. There are a lot of legacy choices.