My mother always told me to order clam chowder on a Friday, because that is when it would be freshest, and not to order chili or baked beans in the middle of the week as it would probably be warmed over. I don’t know if that is true, but soup at any time of the week is a heart warming pleasure.
For centuries soup has given sustenance to weary travelers, hungry families, babes in arms and ancient toothless grandmas alike. Soup can’t be eaten with a weapon, so it was one of the first offerings of friendship to a stranger. Sitting around a campfire in the desert, or on a snow-covered mountaintop, it opens and warms the hearts while filling the belly. A bowl of soup can either be a beginning or the complete meal.
During times of need, soup kitchens feed the resident or transient homeless. It’s like a friendly hand up the ladder to make it through another day. You hardly ever see a salad or dessert kitchen, though a dessert kitchen isn’t a bad idea.
Soup strengthens the bonds of friendship as news, gossip and confidences are shared. A soup kettle is bottomless because it holds Love, the most important part of any meal. It is frequently added to, even as it is diminished. The soup spoon is the largest one on the right hand side because it is the first utensil to be used, thus the most important. Soup can’t be eaten with a knife or a fork so there is no misunderstanding as to which implement to pick up.
The weather is cooling, just as the leaves are slowly drifting to the ground, the days are growing shorter, and we close the blinds against the dark. It’s good to smell a pot of soup bubbling on the back of the stove, it’s like a hug around the heart.
We each have our favorite soups of course, and mine is anything which lasts two or three days, because everyone knows soup is better the next day. Chicken soup has long been considered a cure-all for what ails you, and there is some truth in its stand against a head cold.
Several dear people have brought me chicken soup after an unforeseen glitch in health, which was much appreciated. I still have a container belonging to one of them waiting in my garage. I plan to return it to her even if she doesn’t get sick! I have a small stash of plastic bowls etc. belonging to other people; in fact, there are a couple whose ownership escapes me. Perhaps I should simply throw a party and have them go out and help themselves.
I gathered several of my favorite soup recipes this morning for the coming days, and I will be making Sweet Potato-Corn, Potato Leek, Potato Kale and Sausage, Green Chili Pork Posole, Beer Cheese Soup, Split Pea (to use a few pieces of ham in my freezer) and a wonderful Italian Wedding Soup. Those may take me into the winter and even more delicious meals. The homemade bread I make is wonderful lightly toasted and dipped into the broth.
So many soups gravitate from one country to another, and take on slightly different qualities. Matzo ball soup and the Clump Soup of the Danes, is quite similar, although clump isn’t made from matzo meal. Both are served in a flavorful chicken broth, though I like to spike them up with a few pieces of carrot for color.
Sweet Potato and Corn Soup
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
saalt to taste
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
2 cups water
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I use chicken)
3 cups yellow or white sweet corn kernels
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 cup milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cayenne
2-3 Tbs. cream
Cook the onion slowly in the butter, with a little salt, stirring often, until it is golden brown. At the same time peel and dice the sweet potatoes, combine them in a pot with the water and the broth and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add the carmelized onions to the soup, deglaze the onion pan with a little of the broth and add it back then puree this mixture in batches in a blender.
Return the puree to the pot and add the corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, chopped jalapeno and milk. Simmer until the peppers and corn are tender. Stir in the lemon juice and cayenne, taste and correct the seasoning if needed. Finish the soup with a little cream.
Garnish with coarsely chopped cilantro leaves.
11 thoughts on “THE MAGIC OF SOUP”
Fantastic, just as I was ready to sink in gloom, the saving grace of a nice soup with recipe. How fortuitous. My mum made the best chicken soup. Even Helvi agrees with that. She remembers her soups so well. The photos of your soups are a feast on their own. Serves 8? Ah well, there will be enough!
Oh, so happy. Thank you Kaytisweet.
Soup is even good in summer. A Norwegian friend made fruit soup, which sounds strange, but tastes delicious.
I just made some and added a bit of groound cumin and some oregano. Good.
I am a big soup fan, so quick and easy to make and always tastes “good for you” as well as delicious. Your recipes sound wonderful and exotic, especially Clump Soup which I am going to Google now …….
Those small dumplings are so comforting. I’ll send the recipe if you can’t find it. In English it may spell differently.
“Soup can’t be eaten with a weapon, so it was one of the first offerings of friendship to a stranger.” You are full of these amazing facts, you clever thing ! 🙂
And good on you for a vego soup (I use the vego stock) ! I shall trot this one out next year, around … oh, May, possibly.
Thanks, Katy ! 😀
So many people are switching to vegetable broth. I do some soups just using plain old H20. Vegetables serve as the flavoring. Isn’t it interesting that soup is one of many things common to many countries? Must be a reason!
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You are so full of interesting titbits of info., you clever thing !
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I just was bringing over the recipe for Nypon Soppa, the fruit soup that I grew up with in my Swedish grandparents’ home. (Yes, that would be the Matsons.) It was one of my favorites, although in later years we also enjoyed the Danish version.
I have to ask: what is Posole? I’ve been all over the internet, trying to sort it out. I found a bunch of recipes, and I found where to buy it, but I’m still not sure what it is. Clearly it’s corn, but is it processed some way? I’m so confused.
What I’m not confused about is how good that sweet potato and corn soup looks. As it happens, I have every single ingredient for making it, including fresh sweet corn cut from the cob and frozen. I think that might be a weekend project.
In Liberia, the common dish is called rice and soup, although soup simply is the word for whatever goes on top of the rice. It might be a thinner broth with meat, but usually it’s greens, or palm butter with a little meat, or whatever. And here’s something I always loved. Travelers in upcountry Liberia always carried their own rice bowl and spoon. No need to return dishes that way!
If you make it, try adding a bit of ground cumin and oregano to taste. I just made some and I like the addition.
That fruit soup sounds really good. My Norwegian friend always served it after a meal of boiled black cod and boiled potatoes. We both had places at the Hood Canal in Washington, and he always set the newspaper covered table on the deck by the water, One thing was important though, “Pour the butter on it!”
OK the posole: the recipe I use has pork tenderloin cut into small pieces cooked with onions, celery and garlic. The “corn” is hominy, and I use canned. It has chilies, and fresh tomatillos, cumin, and soe chili powder depending on how hot youlike it. It’s fine like that, but for a party dish, I have small dished of condiments on the table to put on top. Peanuts, radish, cilantro, avocado, basically anything you can think of that would be good.
The Liberian idea of taking your own bowl with you is good. They used to take their own dish and utensils to pot luck dinners for church picnics too.