Soup is a savoury liquid food that is made by boiling ingredients, such as meat, vegetables and beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers about 5,000 years ago. Over the centuries, the terms gruel, potage , broth, consomme, soup and stock have been used to describe this cooking method. The terms have shifted over time, but the modern definition of soup and stew were established in the eighteenth century. Soups usually are more liquid, while stews are thicker ; contain more solid ingredients. Stews are cooked in covered containers for longer periods of time, at a gentle boil with less water and at a lower heat.
Traditionally, soup is a liquid food classified into two broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. Examples of clear soups are bouillon and consomme. Thick soups can be further classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: puree , which are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from pureed shellfish thickened with cream; cream soups are thickened with bechamel sauce; and veloute are thickened with eggs, butter and cream. Finally there are soups and broths thickened with rice, flour, and other grains.
The word soup originates from the Teutonic word, suppa, to describe a Medieval dish consisting of a thick stew poured on slices of bread, called sop, used to soak up the liquid. Often described as potages, Onion soup is an example of a modern soup that retains the traditional bread. Thinner soups became more popular as a food dish in the seventeenth century, around the same time that the spoon was invented, to accomodate the fashion of wearing large, stiff ruffles worn around the neck.
The first restaurants appeared on the streets of France in the 16th century. This was a highly concentrated, inexpensive meal, advertised as a restorative for the physically exhausted. In 1765, these restoratives were so popular, that a Parisian entrepreneur, opened a specialty shop: a restaurant. By 1827, restaurants were popular in France and England, and carried a full menu of prepared food dishes.
In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1742, based on Eliza Smith's Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion and included several recipes for soups and bisques. A 1772 cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, contained an entire chapter. While English cooking dominated early colonial cooking, as new immigrants arrived, other national recipes became popular. Pennsylvania Germans were famous for potato soup. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplan dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Boston, Restorator and was nicknamed, The Prince of Soups. The first known American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: Soups and Soup Making. Chicken noodle soup is one of the most popular soups in America and is often used as a traditional remedy for the common cold. Chicken soup and lockshen (Yiddish for noodles) is known as Jewish penicillin.
Portable soup was devised in the eighteenth century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time. The Japanese miso is an example of a concentrated soup paste.
Commercial soup became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century.
Fruit soups are served hot or cold depending on the recipe. Many recipes are for cold soups served when fruit was in season during hot weather. Some like Norwegian 'frukt suppe' may be served hot and rely on dried fruit such as raisins and prunes and so could be made in any season. Fruit soups may include milk, sweet or savoury dumplings, spices, or alcoholic beverages like brandy or champagne.
Cold fruit soups are most common in Scandanavian, Baltic and Eastern European cuisines while hot fruit soups with meat appear in Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Chinese cuisines. Fruit soups are uncommon or absent in the cuisines of the Americas, Africa and Western Europe. They are also not seen in Japan, Southeast Asia or Oceania.
Winter melon soup is a Chinese dish that is not particularly sweet, as the melon in question is low in natural sugars.
- Sour soup (fish soup ) is a Vietnamese dish made with rice, fish, various vegetables, and in some cases pineapple.
A feature of East Asian soups not normally found in Western cuisine is the use of tofu in soups.
Miso soup is a light broth containing miso. It is usually served at breakfast in Japan and sometimes includes tofu, mushrooms, seaweed, or green onions.
Pho is a Vietnamese staple noodle soup
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that comes in several varieties
Saimin is Hawaiian fresh, soft, undried egg noodles in bonito fish or shrimp broth with Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Korean and Portuguese influences
- Thukpa is Tibetan noodle soup, that is more or less the staple (along with Butter Tea and Tsampa)
Udon soup has thick, soft noodles in a light broth. There are many varieties with different noodles and toppings.
Traditional regional Soups
Soup as a figure of speech
In the English language, the word "soup" has developed several phrasal uses.
- Alphabet soup is a term often used to describe a large amount of acronyms used by an administration.
- Primordial soup is a term used to describe the organic mixture leading to the development of life.
- A soup kitchen is a place that serves prepared food of any kind to the homeless.
- Souping is an expression used at Feesch parties for the act of deflowering newbies.. Soup is not to be confused with Stew which ISN'T as smooth.
- Pea Soup describes a thick or dense fog.
Stone soup is a popular children's fable.
Soup in popular culture
Soup in other languages
- Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food (2002). New York: Free Press ISBN 0743226445
Larousse Gastronomique, Jennifer Harvey Lang, ed. American Edition (1988). New York: Crown Publishers ISBN 0609609718
- Morton, Mark. Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities (2004). Toronto: Insomniac Press ISBN 1894663667
Last updated: 10-11-2005 02:06:31