It’s well below freezing in much of the country today: a good day to focus on soup.
Every culture makes soup. It’s easy, filling and nutritious, and can be inexpensive. In much of the world it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
January is National Soup Month. Rather than fall back on your favorites today, discover something new. Start with our delicious Soup Glossary, featuring many different types of soups.
Then, check out our soup garnishes: ways to add flavor and excitement to your soup.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUP
Mankind is up to 200,000 years old. For the majority of our existence, we have had no soup.
The earliest humans had no cookware—nothing to boil water (or anything else) in. Boiling was not easy to do until the invention of waterproof containers, probably pouches made of clay or animal skin, about 9,000 years ago. We can date the first types of soups to about 6,000 B.C.E., some 8,000 years ago.
Our word soup comes from French soupe, which derived from Vulgar Latin suppa, from the post-classical Latin verb suppare, to soak. This indicated bread soaked in broth, or a liquid poured onto a piece of bread. The bread added heft to the meal.
In Germanic languages, the word sop referred to a piece of bread used to soak up soup or stew. The word entered the English language in the seventeenth century exactly as that: soup pored over “sops” of bread or toast (which evolved into croutons). Prior to then, soups were called broth or pottage. The bread or toast served as an alternative to using a spoon.
Today’s soup croutons evolved from sops.
While the rich enjoyed elaborate soups, basic soup was a poor man’s dinner. Until recent times, the evening meal was the lighter of the two meals of the day; a soup or sop would be a typical evening dish. The name of the meal evolved to souper, than supper.
It began to be fashionable to serve the liquid broth without the sop (bread), and in the early eighteenth century, soup became a first course.
EATING VS. DRINKING SOUP
Since it’s a liquid, why do we “eat” soup rather than “drink” soup?
Because it’s served in a dish. If you consume it from a mug or cup, then you can be deemed to be drinking your soup.