More Soup…

It all started with the French Onion soup.

I was enjoying this perennial favorite one day, and was pondering why it is always recommended that the bread used should be a day old. ” Why not use fresh bread? ” I thought. ” What’s the difference, it’s going to be in the broth, under the cheese anyway…”

So I ate and thought. I’m much better at one than at the other, so understandably this could take a while. And there may be an awful lot of soup involved.

There was an awful lot of soup involved. All kinds of soup…months of diligent research…and finally, as I was enjoying yet another wonderful French Onion…

There was a Soup Revelation. The fuzzy cloud that my brain spends most of its time suspended in parted, and the Truth About Soup came shining through.

Starkly, shockingly simple. I dropped my spoon and gaped into the bowl; beyond the melted cheese, through the bread, and straight into the onion broth.

It’s not about a classic refined French recipe. There was never a damned recipe.

You used lots of onions because you had lots of onions; you used old bread while it was still barely usable. And you scraped the mold from old cheese and melted the usable part over the top… or maybe just used it all. A little mold never killed anyone…or has it?  There was only one way to find out.

It’s about not wasting resources.

The further back you go in history, the more important that edict becomes; people had to work harder and harder to acquire their food items. And frontiersmen and farmers were still only a few steps removed from the immediate risks that the early hunters had to take.

Food was  not just vital, but eminently sacred; a failed hunt or crop meant that people died. And saying grace over food was a heartfelt thanks, because they had risked everything to get it. To waste it would be…dare we use such an arcane word in the 21st century…a sin.

Soup goes back in history about 6000 years; as soon as clay pots became usable over fire. There was just one recipe; anything in danger of going to waste that would fit in the pot went into the pot. Actual recipes probably took centuries to become what they are today.

And why is soup always the first course served? Because you always used the leftovers first; less chance of waste. Nothing very refined about it. Don’t waste food.

I have tested my Ancient Soup Theory. I have a three- legged black wrought iron cooking pot that goes to re-enactments with me. I have successfully made French Onion soup over an open fire, using old onions, old cheese, old bread. It came out beautifully.

I absorbed all this from a bowl of soup ( my little French Onion joke) and might I suggest that you also try staring deeply and intently at your next meal. There’s a lot going on there. Your lunch may be trying to tell you something. Even if it’s from a drive-up window. Just make sure to take it out of the bag first, because staring at a bag is just weird.

And don’t even mention pizza…pizza just won’t shut up.


Pease Porridge hot, Pease Porridge cold…Pease Porridge in the pot, Nine Days Old…”


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. good Post (for the record, I undertook to cause myself to like Onion Soup when I was younger. I liked the smell, but had never had it, didn’t particularly enjoy soup (too much association with illness, I guess) but thought to myself, “Even though I know I won’t like the taste, with an aroma like that, I really should acquire a taste for the stuff”

    (Now that I see the words appear on screen, and their inadvertent synchronicity with your thesis, I think to myself, “Damn! what a cat”)

    In any event, my Plan to acquire a Taste for Onion Soup? I stopped eating for three days…. no solid food water only. And at the end of that three days? … Onion Soup!

    (I repeat “Damn! what a cat”!)

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