. Soup 101: The Origin of Soup Seriously Soupy

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soup 101: The Origin of Soup

Soup definitely is food - Image Credit: Ian Butler, Fine Artistie
By Joan Gioe, Contributing Writer to Seriously Soupy

The origin of soup correlates directly with the discovery of pottery and the invention of containers that could hold cooking liquid on the fire without breaking. This puts soup as the second oldest cooking method in history, (roasting being number one with a bullet) and dates back to around 5000 B.C. -- about as old as some things in my refrigerator, sadly.

The word "soup" itself is derived from the Old French word sope/soupe whose Latin root is the verb suppare meaning to soak. Soup by definition was "to soak with bread" or "pour over bread." The original term soup primarily referred to a broth or porridge.

Furthermore, the addition of bread was as pivotal as it was essential. In the Middle Ages, soup became a staple of dinner fare when one would use bread as more a utensil than a garnish. The use of the bread to sop up the leftover liquid at the end of the meal is how the word supper was created. Learn something new every day kids!

The modern restaurant industry is said to be based on soup. Broth, bouillion, and consomme were born as a result of restoratifs (where the word restaurant comes), where they were the first items served in public restaurants in 18th century Paris.

Theoretically, a soup can be any combination of vegetables, meat or fish cooked in a liquid. It may be thick (like gumbo), thin (such as an aforementioned consomme), smooth (like a bisque) or chunky (chowder or bouillabaisse). Though most soups are hot, some like vichyssoise and many fruit soups are served cold.

So there you have it. The origin. From soup to nuts. It's easy to forget about soups when thinking of fine dining or hearty home cooked meals. But soup started it all. I mean hey, we didn't evolve from Primordial pizza right?

Joan Gioe is the mother of one amazing toddler and wife of one amazing husband. She credits him for getting her back on the writing horse. You can read her tribute to another time and place on her blog, Dear, Daughter in which she chronicles life events in the style of old fashion love letters to her 22-month-old daughter. She also recently started a food blog called The Panini Press where she makes a new panini every week and provides step-by-step pictures and instructions so that you can easily make them yourself.

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