the origins of soup

There is something about making homemade soup. A dash of this.. a sprig of that, a stir of the cauldron…its like magic waiting to unfold in the bellies of those who receive it. There is intention in every pot of soup I make. It represents for me, home.

When I lived in the small coastal town of Ucluelet, I would spend each Sunday afternoon concocting “the soup for the week’. Watching the fog hover over like a protective blanket against the bustling ocean, listening to CBC on my clock radio. My kids would weave in and out between my stance. My Sunday ritual. The Sunday dance.

I miss those days. The simplicity of those early days. Whenever life feels too fast or complicated I pull out that soup pot and throw on CBC. It grounds me. And there is nothing that brings me more pleasure than watching the ladle drop and rise; laden with the soft fragrant steam that invites those I love to my table.

A little bit about this dish that, without fail, warms our core..

Lets start with the fun facts. The word soup derives from the French word, soupe (“soup”, “broth”), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew (

The existence of soup dates back thousands of years. Boiling became more common with the invention of waterproof containers which, in early years, took the form of clay vessels, animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds. It is also thought that the earliest example of a soup bowl may have been when “ancient soup makers may have simply dug a pit, lined it with animal skin or gut, filled this “pot” with water and dropped in some hot rocks. The use of hot rocks to boil water was a known practice amongst Neanderthals around this time. Indeed, boiling water is thought to follow roasting, and precede baking. Neanderthals were thought to have boiled bones to render fats that prevent protein poisoning. The result was a drinkable broth created in the water”. .

Fast forward a few centuries and we land in 18th century France, where street vendors would sell a restorative soup known as a ‘restoratif‘. The first restaurant was born when an enterprising man named, Boulanger, decided to open a quiet eatery featuring soups, eggs and other restoratifs.

And so began the trend of Gastronomique cooking styles that subsuquently defined the variety of soups we know today. Clear soups were called bouillons and consommés, while thicker soups became purees, bisques and veloutés. Oh to be a fly in the soup in the 18th century!

It is not surprising with a history like that, that soup has cemented its place in our psyche..the place we associate with home and health. It’s the ‘grandmother of our souls’ that never fails to warm and comfort us. As we enter Fall, I am even more drawn to my couldron..and with that I will do my best to share as many of my “sops” as I can..for now here is one of my faves..

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup