Soup, A Way of Life

Years ago I bought a big, thick cookbook titled “Soup” with a perplexing subheading: “A way of life”. 

I’ve pondered the logic of that title forever. How could a bowlful of tomato, bean or chicken noodle soup determine one’s lifestyle?  Wasn’t this the domain of style or taste?  

But it turns out soup is just that — especially at breakfast. 

When I first witnessed Taipei office workers perched on stools at early morning street stalls slurping down hot steaming bowlfuls of doujiang, while dipping crispy, deep-fried bread sticks into a hot melange of soy bean soup, I knew it wasn’t for me. I could abide by doujiang as a late night snack, especially for its fabled anti-hangover abilities, but nope, not the morning after.

Ditto, say soup naysayers, when it comes to a dinner revolving around soup. A small appetizer, perhaps, but who in their right mind would make soup the star after six? 

Hot summer temperatures also tend to drive many people as far from soup as possible.  Yet not so in the Caribbean where scalding bowlfuls of callaloo or black-eyed pea soup not only assuage hunger but -get this- reduce body heat with cooling streams of sweat.

If anyone is guilty of a soup lifestyle, it’s me. It’s my go-to meal for lunch, dinner and snacks in between.  I make it by the vat full, counting on numerous labeled leftovers to pile into the freezer, otherwise known as my kitchen’s Taste Archives.  

Next time you ponder your lifestyle, consider pouring more soup into it. 

“Potage

This lush green soup  can be served hot or cold, preferably with a dollop of sour cream or cream-top yogurt and a flurry of fresh herbs.  

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cooking onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 broccoli heads and stalks, chopped and separated

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups packed spinach leaves 

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt  

2 tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar

1/2-1 cup sour cream 

Green onions 

Fresh mint

Heat a large pot, add oil and sauté onion, celery, carrot and broccoli stalks until tender and fragrant. Add stock and bring to a boil.  Add broccoli florets, peas, spinach leaves, bay leaf, dijon mustard, cayenne, black pepper, salt and white wine or vinegar.   Simmer covered until just tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Puree with an immersion blender. Whisk in sour cream or yogurt.  Serve hot immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled. Garnish with fresh mint and green onions.