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It is fall, and the temperatures are getting cool. In fact, late evening can be downright cold. This is the season when everyone’s cravings turn to soup. Well maybe everyone is an overstatement, but for a large number of us during this time of year, comfort food comes in a bowl and with a spoon. Oh, and some kind of fresh bread if you’re lucky.
Food historians, the folks who study such things, say that soup is likely as old as the art of cooking. The act of combining a group of ingredients and adding liquid in a vessel to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested and simple to make food was pure genius. Einstein should have been so smart.
Regardless of your favorite soup — New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese won ton or just plain old tomato — all are variations on the same theme. Some veggies, some protein, some liquid, some spice and a bit of time and you end up with a hug in a bowl.
The semantic underpinning of the word soup is that of soaking; enter the need for some form of bread to eat with your soup, or to eat your soup with or maybe even to eat your soup from.
Soup is not only good to eat, it is good for you as well. It’s not just a myth; the Livestrong.com website touts the benefits of soup. “Soup makes a hot, filling snack or meal that offers a variety of health benefits. The ingredients and possible combinations are virtually limitless. The healthiest soups are homemade and include fresh, low-fat ingredients such as vegetables and beans and a minimum amount of salt. Some benefits of eating soup are it can be nutritious, providing a full serving of vegetables in one bowl, and may offer weight-management benefits as it is generally low in calories.”
The hubpages.com website goes one better: “If you keep thinking about chicken soup and its much-talked about benefits on cold and flu attacks, you would be happy to know that the old tales are true: chicken soup (especially if homemade or organic) has anti-inflammatory effects and can help lessen the symptoms of a cold.”
All that aside, how many of your best childhood memories involve soup? Remember tomato soup and a toasted cheese sandwich to dip in it for Saturday lunch? How about chicken noodle soup when you stayed home from school with a cold?
And this is the season. Just walking from the cold into the house for the evening meal and the warm rich aroma of a pot of soup on the stove envelopes you and you can be taken somewhere else. Just for a moment with that wonderful fragrance wrapping around you are back in Grandma’s kitchen. Or maybe for you it is the home you lived in in grade school with your mom in the kitchen.
It will be different for each of us, but I guarantee the aroma of soup on the stove and fresh bread, just out of the oven, will take you to sometime and somewhere in your past. Soup is like that.
Remember it is the season for comfort in a bowl. Give it a try, find a recipe, get some ingredients, add a little love and make some memories.
Guy Bliesner is a longtime educator, having taught and coached tennis and swimming. He is school safety and security administrator for the Bonneville School District in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has been married for 26 years and has three children.