Jan 02, 2018

Let’s Talk About Soup

By MaryAnn Miano

The dictionary defines soup as “a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables in stock or water,” but I prefer to define it as the perfect meal for a bitter cold winter night! January is rightly declared as National Soup Month, and a soup by any other name (such as broth, potage, consommé, and bisque) is still soup that hits the spot.

The origin of the word “soup” is interesting. It derived from the same prehistoric German root that produced English “sup” and supper.  From that root came a noun, “suppa,” which then passed into Old French as “soupe.” Originally, in France, the “soupe” was the slice of bread on which was poured the contents of the cooking pot (potage). This meant both “piece of bread soaked in liquid” and, by extension, “broth poured onto bread.” The word with the latter meaning entered into English in the 17th century, joining the term “sop,” which had already arrived separately and was well established as meaning the bit of bread that was soaked. (Hence, sop up your soup with a piece of bread.) Arrival of the word “soup” fell in the period when people began serving the liquid soup without sops. Similar terms in other languages include the Italian “zuppa” and the German “suppe.”

Soup is counted as one of the most basic dishes. Its role as an appetizing first course should be viewed against the historical background in which soups with solids in them were a meal in themselves for poorer people, especially in rural areas. Boiling bones with minimal meat is a way to extract flavors from scarce sources. Some soups then stray into the realm of stews and fish soups (such as Bouillabaisse).

The domain of soups is so vast that it includes several large categories. Fruit soups are popular in Northern Europe and northern parts of Central Europe. There’s a host of “sour soups” that are important in North, East, and Central Europe. For example, Balkan sour soups (shorba or ciorba) use lemons or yogurt as souring agents. Sour soups use sauerkraut or a dash of vinegar. Borscht is a sour soup made with beet root.

Every culture in the world has their proud soup recipe. Some soups border the exotic. Despite this, many have viewed soup as an “invalid” food due to the importance attached to soup in the 19th and 20th centuries to “soup kitchens” as a means of giving food to the needy or homeless.

Soups can be classified into two broad groups: clear soups such as bouillon or consommé, and thick soups. Soups can be pureed, such as vegetable soups thickened with the starch contained in the pureed vegetables. Bisques are pureed shellfish and enriched with heavy cream. Cream soups are thickened with béchamel or roux sauce and enriched with milk or cream. Veloute` (French for “velvet”) soup is thickened with egg yolks, butter, and cream.

Soup is probably as old as mankind. Archaeological evidence now shows that pottery existed to boil soup over an open flame going back some 25,000 years. Even animal skins or intestines could have held water that boiled to make a soup of the contents of choice.

Whatever kind of soup you enjoy, be it spicy, thick, or thin, indulge to your heart’s (and cold hands’) content during National Soup Month! Try the following simple, healthy recipe in the slow cooker to get you started, and have it ready to greet you when you get home.




  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cans (10-1/2 ounces each) condensed beef broth, undiluted
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup each diced carrots and celery
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cut green beans
  • 1 cup cubed peeled potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste



In a large skillet, cook beef and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.

Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low until vegetables are tender, 6-8 hours. Yield: 14 servings (3-1/2 quarts).

To save chopping time, use frozen sliced carrots and cubed hash brown potatoes in Savory Winter Soup.

Recipe from: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/savory-winter-soup.