Sunday, August 26, 2012

Soup Coup

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting."
       Abraham Maslow

I am staging a soup coup.

I am going to take over the world with soup.

Jesus Christ has a mythic and metaphorical corner on the loaves and fishes market, but my vehicle will be soup.

Here's why soup will conquer evil and create world peace:

1. Soup is good food.

It tastes good.  It is nutritious.  With soup, you can have all four food groups in one pot.  Unless you are making cheese soup or a fancy-schmancy cream soup, it's probably pretty lean, too.

2. Soup is diplomatic.

It's hard to shove yourself away from the table in rage when you are eating soup.  You have to take care.  Unlike steak, grilled cheese or Chocodiles, you can't shove soup in your mouth and chew angrily. And you can't yell at anyone through a mouth full of soup, so you must listen.  First I talk and you eat and listen.  Then I'll eat and you talk and I'll listen.

Soup is disarming, which you already know if you've ever read the children's story Stone Soup.

3. Soup is loving.

A big pot of soup is meant to share. Feed your friends soup and see what happens.  My friend Heather makes her Love Soup if she loves you.  I've decided I'm making vegetarian pho when I want to show my students or friends I care. I hope you have or had a mother who made you homemade soup when you were sick or sad.

And soup leads to bread.  Sharing soup and bread is nourishing for friendships, for our children and for our own souls.

Soup can even be seductive.  If my man makes me soup, he is likely to get some appreciation from me at some point in the future.  He has only done this... maybe twice in our marriage.  But it was hot.  Sometimes I fantasize about him making me soup.  It's a lovely dream.

4.  Soup reduces waste.

Soup reduces food waste. America wastes anywhere from 40-50% of our food supply. Make stock from leftovers stashed in your freezer.  Show a bit of restraint, though (asparagus trimmings aren't good in pho broth, I discovered.)  As a rule, I don't go shopping for many soups I make unless it is a special occasion. Mostly I make soup when I have a bunch of scraps saved up in the freezer and some other veggies to use up.  Here's a recent article on food waste, an issue which seems to be getting some needed press lately.

Fresh produce doesn't come individually wrapped.  Homemade stock doesn't come in shelf-stable packaging. Soup can take advantage of seasonal, local produce. Soup reduces other kinds of waste as well.

5. Soup resists hierarchies and hegemony.

Nothing is more egalitarian than soup.  I suppose there are gourmet soups that are not, but most soups (and definitely the ones I make) are pretty basic food.  I hardly even use wine in them.  The basic flavors are onions, celery, carrots, bay, salt, pepper, garlic... for almost every soup. Nothing fancy, intimidating, holier-than-thou.  I sometimes use a prepared stock, but more and more I don't even do that.  Homemade soup, even gazpacho, rarely gives anyone any attitude.

Canned soups and prepared soup mixes are at the grocery store, but you don't need them to have plentiful and tasty soup.  You just need a little bit of time and practice.  Soup will take down corporate America. Soup is subversive.

6. Soup will be there in a recession.  

Schools may go without librarians and copy paper. Potholes may not be filled. But you can always find something with which to make soup.

7. Soup is forgiving.

It's hard to mess up soup too terribly.  Oversalting is probably the toughest problem, but then just add more water or some potatoes.

8. Soup will simplify your life.

A huge pot of soup, if you don't feed it to your friends, will store easily in fridge and freezer.  It freezes well in old yogurt containers, and heats up easily at work.  You can make a big pot of soup and enjoy it for several meals. And most soup recipes are low-maintenance:  chopping, seasoning and waiting.

9. Soup is meditation. 

Whether chopping vegetables or focusing on your soup spoon as it nears your mouth, soup slows you down, gives you time to think.  To work in the present, process the past, or plan the future.

"Beautiful soup, so rich and green
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup! 
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish
Game, or any other dish? 
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth of beautiful soup?"

Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice in Wonderland’

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