Here’s the thing about water: You can add stuff to it and make it taste really good. We’re not talking Crystal Light or Kool-Aid here, we’re talkin’ turning water into a meal. What? Water into a meal, are you crazy, you ask. I’m not crazy, but I am old school and being old school means following the time-honored traditions that got our ancestors, rich and poor, through the rough times that history threw at them.
Back in the olden days, be it medieval times or the Depression era (feel free to insert your family’s version of the olden days here) folks did the only thing they could do when supplies ran low and papa couldn’t make enough bank to pay the butcher and the candlestick maker, they raided the icebox, threw whatever they found in a pot, added water and voila! Soup!
According to www.foodtimeline.org, “the origins of soup are as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable.” And if it makes you feel any better, or in any case a little more bourgeois, consider this from the same source, “The modern restaurant industry is said to be based on soup.” Take that Per Se with your sweet ruby plums and your delicate nuggets of foie gras!
Soup is the simple basis for many cuisines around the world. Soup can consist of grains, meats, beans, eggs, spiced vegetables, plain vegetables, fish cakes, noodles, herbs, and if you believe some fables, even an old shoe. Making soup means you can haggle down the price for old and bruised vegetables at the farmers market. It means you can do something with last night’s leftovers. Ultimately it means you can stay on budget when things get a little tight. And soup, at the end of a crisp autumn evening or a cold snowy night is the perfect meal to make. It isn’t magic, it’s just a pot, some water, whatever you have in the fridge, (and here’s your mother’s secret) a cube or two of bouillon found in little packets for cheap in the isles of the supermarket, in chicken, beef, or vegetable broth flavor. I’d give you a recipe, but that’d kill your ability to be imaginative in your own kitchen! Now go boil some water…