Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Soup is Good Food, Part 2

There's something primeval about soup.  It's one of the oldest foods on the planet, to be sure, and most of us find soups and stews remarkably comforting.  Oddly enough, people have seemed to lose the ability to make the stuff, which is too bad because it's actually easy to make.  I know for years, other than soup from my mom, soup meant opening a can of Campbells and zapping it in the microwave.  I think in our busy lifestyle, we've lost our patience with cooking, especially if it takes longer than a half hour to make. 

Really good soup takes good broth, and good broth takes time.  It also has a yucky factor to it.  I mean, you add a bunch of meat, bones and vegetables you really aren't interested in eating and pour water on it and boil for a long while.  I laughed when my husband came to the kitchen (he always decides to check to see what I'm doing when I'm working on the most unappetizing stuff) and saw me put together the stock in the stock pot.  What's more, at the end of the cooking, you have to strain out the broth and throw out all the used-up bones.  I keep the meat because that can be used in a soup or other food later.  But it all takes time and effort; whereas, opening a can of soup from the store doesn't.

But the soup from the store isn't as good.  For years I searched for a wild rice soup on the shelves that equaled the wild rice soup I had in Minnesota at the Hinckley sled dog race.  Eventually, I found something similar with Progresso, but it still wasn't the same.  Now, I make my own version and it's to die for.  It's a yummy wild rice and venison, chicken or buffalo chowder.  I'll post the link in the next blog post.

When I'm making soup, I feel like I'm opening a portal back in time. Looking at the steaming concoction, I can imagine our ancestors with clay pots or hollowed out wooden containers cooking something steaming over a cook fire.  I wonder who thought about adding bones and bits of plants for flavoring to make broth and then figure out that this could make their meals go further.  I marvel because this is a basic thing that all people make -- not just one culture or another.  So, it had to come from someone long ago who passed on the knowledge to others.  Or, maybe several people figured it out at once.  Regardless, it's really not something you're born knowing how to do.  When I started making broth, I had to go back to a cookbook to get the basic ingredients.  And yet, every culture has soup or stew in some variety.  Maybe it's basic physics where there's only so many ways for cooking foods.


  1. I know I'm in the minority, but I've never been able to like soup. It's like... meaty tea with a few bits and bobs in it. It doesn't feel like I'm eating something so much as drinking it. Stews and chowders, on the other hand, I adore! Go figure, huh?

  2. My problem is I'm a bachelor, in the worst and best ways. Soup and stew is good, when you are feeding many loved ones and the time is worth it. Just feeding yourself? I get so hungry smelling the stock cook that I'll dive into an easier dish before the soup is ready.

  3. What works for me is that I make the stock and freeze it in portions that I can use for cooking. Plan on making the stock while you're cooking your dinner -- that way you won't get so hungry waiting for it. Then, when you want to make soup, use the stock from the freezer and follow the recipe.

  4. There are so many different kinds of soups....most of mine are vegetarian & I use some sort of bouillon or the mckays seasonings that are beef & chicken-like.

    Some of my favorite soup recipes are simple 'cheaters' using some canned or frozen things such as beans or spinach. Examples: tortillini soup using frozen tortillini & spinach. Refried bean soup sounds funny, but everyone who tries it loves it....it takes canned refrieds, home canned tomatoes & other seasonings. They are good, hot nourishing soups in a hurry, cheaper & tastier than canned.

    This just gave me an idea for a post on Quick homemade soups we enjoy here.