Soup: A Bit of History and Recipes to Warm You as Winter Nears

Updated on August 17, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Beautiful Soup so rich So green,
Waiting in a hot tureen
Who for such dainties would not stoop.

Soup of the evening
Beautiful Soup,
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful Sou-oop
Soup of the evening Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful, Beautiful Soup.

Beautiful Soup, Who cares for fish,
Game or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?

Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup,
Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful Sou-oop
Soup of the evening Beautiful Sou-oop
Beautiful, Beautiful Soup.

--The Mock Turtle, "Alice in Wonderland"

In the Beginning...

When was soup invented?

There is no way to come up with a definitive answer, but the advent of combining ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, easy-to-digest meal (“soup”) probably occurred some moments after the discovery of fire, or perhaps more precisely, when prehistoric man took that first step in learning how to cook—learning how to boil water.

In her book, Food in History, Raey Tannahill states that we knew about boiling water long before the invention of pottery (about 6,000 B.C.). She believes that prehistoric men used reptile shells or the stomachs of animals they had killed as vessels in which to boil liquid.

And, after learning to boil water, man made another discovery. Boiling foods not only makes them taste better, it creates new flavors. Cereal grains and some root vegetables, when heated in water, break down, soften, and release starchy granules. These starches then thicken the cooking liquid, the flavors of the individual ingredients combine, and soup is created.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Sop was the name given to the thick gruel which was made in that first cooking of grain or vegetables with meat and water. The “wealthy” made sop with broth poured on sliced bread.

In Spanish, Portuguese, or Catalan the word is “sopa.” In France, soupe; for the Basque zopa; in Afrikaans you will ask for sop, in Estonia supp; German and Danish have suppe and in Latvia and Poland a bowl of zupa. In English, we have “soup.”

Many nations have soups they have claimed as their own—Spanish gazpacho, Scottish (mutton) broth with barley, and Russian cabbage soup. Each different soup was borne, not out of ethnic price or a desire for individuality, but from a need for frugality and using local ingredients that could be easily obtained.

We no longer have those restrictions. Today, most ingredients for any type of soup are readily available. And that brings us to the real reason for this hub.


Autumn tree
Autumn tree

Do You Know What Day This Is?

Today is the first day of autumn.

Summer vacations are all but a distant memory. Across our country, school is back in full swing and, with it, the myriad of after-school activities—soccer or football practice, band practice, piano lessons, tutoring—the list goes on and on.

Grocery store merchants recognize that not only the crisp weather, but our hurried lives crave the comfort and ease of preparing a pot of soup for dinner. The ubiquitous red and white labeled cans of soup stand in line on store shelves (not unlike children posing for that first-day-of-school classroom portrait.)

Canned soup is certainly a quick and easy fix and a better choice than fast food, but it too has its drawbacks. Canned soup is typically high in sodium and expensive if you are using it to feed the typical family of four.

Have you ever considered making your own soup? Perhaps you think that making soup is too difficult (those long lists of ingredients look frightening), or that cooking soup from scratch will require too much time.

This first recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Great Northern Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup baby carrots, halved*
  • 1 cup chopped onion*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 15.8-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 6-ounce bag fresh baby spinach leaves

*NOTE - Peeled carrots and pre-chopped onions can be found in your produce section and will speed preparation of this meal, but will cost a bit more than preparing vegetables on your own. The choice of speed vs. economy is up to you.

Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and kielbasa and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth, oregano, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Place 2 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to the pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach; stir until spinach wilts.

Serves 5-6

Scallop Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 medium (about 1 cup) onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 slices turkey bacon, finely diced
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14-oz can reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dry cooking sherry
  • chives to garnish, chopped

Instructions

  1. Place onions, celery, and olive oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook about 2 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add turkey bacon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until bacon begins to brown and becomes crisp. Remove bacon and vegetables from pot and set aside.
  3. Place one-half of the scallops in stock pot and cook without stirring for one minute. Stir gently to loosen scallops from bottom of pan and cook 30 seconds more. Remove from pan. Repeat this process with the remainder of the scallops. Remove scallops from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add butter to pan. As soon as it has melted, stir in the flour; whisk constantly. (Constant whisking insures that there will be no lumps.)
  5. Add white wine and potatoes to the pot and simmer until the wine is almost evaporated. Stir in broth and continue to simmer until the potatoes are very tender.
  6. Stir in half and half. Return the vegetable/bacon mixture and the scallops to the pan; simmer until heated through. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Just before serving stir in cooking sherry. Sprinkle chopped chives on each serving.

Black Bean and Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes, (do not drain)
  • 2 cans black beans, (do not drain)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, (or more if you want more heat)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups medium-grain white rice, cooked
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the canned tomatoes, ONE can of the beans, the onion, and the spices (chili powder, oregano, cumin) in a large saucepan with a lid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 hour or until the tomatoes and beans are very soft.
  2. Stir in the 2nd can of beans and the cooked rice. Simmer about 15 minutes more. Just before serving, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.

Creamy Spinach Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, optional
  • sour cream garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Pour in broth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the potatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in spinach and continue to simmer until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches), leaving it a little chunky if desired. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids).
  5. Serve the soup garnished with nutmeg and cheese or a swirl of sour cream if desired.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, halved, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
  • 2 pounds button mushrooms, sliced (reserve a few slices for garnish if desired)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 3 1/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 1/4 cups canned beef broth
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft and dry, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  2. Stir in rice. Add chicken and beef broths to pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth.
  4. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream.

(8 servings)

Cream of Garlic-Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heads (no, that isn't a typo) of garlic (see notes below on how to prepare the heads of garlic for the soup)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 cups (about 1 pound) red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked crumbled bacon, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened—about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Prepare garlic heads—wash, remove outer papery skins, and slice off (and discard) upper one-third of heads.
  3. Place prepared garlic heads in Dutch oven with sautéed onions. Add broth. Partially cover pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until garlic heads are very tender, about 40 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove garlic heads; using tongs or paper towels, squeeze garlic heads at root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using fork, mash garlic to smooth paste in bowl.
  5. Stir cream, thyme, and half of mashed garlic into soup; heat soup until hot, about 2 minutes. Taste and add remaining garlic paste if desired.
  6. Using immersion blender, process soup until creamy.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish.

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Mama's Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry split peas
  • Two 14-ounce cans white or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup dry lentils
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 small stalk celery, no tops
  • 3 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 medium potato, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the water and split peas in the pot along with the next 6 ingredients.
  2. Stir gently, and allow to simmer for one hour. Stir in diced potato, tomatoes, and sage; cover and simmer 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Linda Lum

    Comments

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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish - I don't know about the vampires, but we do live just 2 hours away from where the Twilight movies were filmed. Can't be too careful.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        I love soups and make a variety of them. That garlicky potato soup sounds good and I bet it can ward off vampires for a good long while, too. Wink, wink.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        Yum....need I say more?

        What a lovely collection of soups to try out this fall and winter. It still is essentially summer where I am but soup still is a favorite.

        Enjoyed too reading the history you provided.

        Angels are on the way to you....ps

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Thank you CrisSp. Garlic takes on a whole new life when treated gently. Be kind to it and it will reward you sweetly. Smash and bash it and it becomes hot and fiery.

      • CrisSp profile image

        CrisSp 

        3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

        But I love soup and this is one enjoyable hub.

        Saving your recipes specially the Garlic-Potato Soup. Hmmm....delish!

        Thank you.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, how kind of you to give the folks at HP something to do (hahaha). I hope you and Bev enjoy the recipes.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Kristen - Thank you. Please be sure to try the recipes that are in the upper right-hand corner (More By This Author). The ribollita is unusual and especially filling and comforting on a chilly day.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Jodah - Good morning to you. Yes it is so easy to make a big batch of soup, freeze, and then take out on those days when you just don't have the time or energy to cook. Thank you.

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Carb Diva, I love those recipes. I'll think I'll try them real soon. Nice little ditty about soups as well.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        3 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Love me soup! :) HP will correct the grammar on that first sentence but it was intentional and I don't care. :) Thanks for the recipes.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        3 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Carb Diva, I love soup. In fact it is one of my favourite meals. We do make our own soups and always have a supply in the freezer. Your soup recipes sound delicious though and I can't wait to make them. Great hub.

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