Nourishing Soup: History, Recipes, and More

Updated on June 17, 2020
Carb Diva profile image

Linda explores 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

— 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, humans 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.

From "Sop" to "Soup"

"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, and Catalan the word is “sopa.” In France, it's "soupe"; for the Basque, it's "zopa." in Afrikaans you will ask for "sop"; in Estonia, it's "supp." Germans and Danes have "suppe," and in Latvia and Poland they eat a bowl of "zupa." And in English, of course, 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 pride 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 article.

Autumn tree
Autumn tree | Source

Store-Bought vs. Homemade

Grocery store merchants recognize that 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


  • 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 about carrots and onions: 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.


  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
Scallop Chowder | Source

Scallop Chowder


  • 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


  1. Place onions, celery, and olive oil in a large stockpot 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 the stockpot and cook without stirring for one minute. Stir gently to loosen scallops from the bottom of the 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 the pan. As soon as it has melted, stir in the flour; whisk constantly. (Constant whisking ensures 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


  • 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


  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
Creamy Spinach Soup | Source

Creamy Spinach Soup


  • 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


  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
Cream of Mushroom Soup | Source

Cream of Mushroom Soup


  • 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
  • minced tarragon for garnish (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a 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 the 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 the soup in a blender until smooth.
  4. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream.

Yield: 8 servings

Cream of Garlic and Potato Soup
Cream of Garlic and Potato Soup | Source

Cream of Garlic and Potato Soup


  • 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)


  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 the Dutch oven with sautéed onions. Add broth. Partially cover the 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 a fork, mash garlic to smooth paste in the bowl.
  5. Stir cream, thyme, and half of the mashed garlic into soup; heat soup until hot, about 2 minutes. Taste and add remaining garlic paste if desired.
  6. Using an immersion blender, process soup until creamy.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish.

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Mama's Split Pea Soup
Mama's Split Pea Soup | Source

Mama's Split Pea Soup


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry split peas
  • 2 (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


  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.

© 2015 Linda Lum


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      RTalloni, I think that the black bean and rice would be perfectly acceptable during the summer. Treat it like any other Tex-Mex meal. Grab some sour cream and an avocado or two and enjoy.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Beautiful autumn is once again around the corner and your soup recipes are a nice variety. It may be that we will not wait for fall to try the black bean and rice recipe. Thanks!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 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


      4 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 

      4 years ago from North Central 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

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 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


      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 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 

      4 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.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)