I believe most of us have heard the term “No Soup for You.” Today it’s a popular phrase in our culture used to indicate that something demanded or asked of you will not be granted. I remember laughing at the phrase years ago while watching the “Seinfeld” television show. A 1995 episode of that show is credited with the origin of that phrase. But did you also know that Jan. is National Soup Month?
According to the American Spices website, soup was traced back to 6000 BC and the meat in it was said to be Hippopotamus. The Greeks used to sell it in markets. Initially it appears it was just a broth that was used to dip bread into. The bread was called “sop” and eventually became “soup.” Later on, other ingredients such as beans and meat were added to the broth. National Soup Month is mostly observed in the United States (after all, we have a day or month for most everything, don’t we?), but it is rapidly becoming popular in many other countries.
Soups are identified as either “clear” or “thick” soups. They can be consumed either cold or hot and can be sweet or savory depending on the region or climate. We Americans consume more than 10 billion bowls each year. And our most popular variety is Chicken Noodle. In fact, I bet you’ve heard the saying “Chicken Soup is Good for the Soul.” But that’s not really about soup. It was a book written by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, who were motivational speakers. The book was a collection of inspirational, true stories heard from audience members at their speaking events. But I suspect they got the tittle from hearing about Chicken Soup, sometimes known as “Grandma’s Soup,” as being good for colds or other ailments.
In fact, according to a University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) website there is scientific support for using Chicken Soup as a cold remedy. In an article on the Explore Interactive Medicine page, they reported: “A 2000 study published in CHEST suggested that the mild anti-inflammatory effect conferred by chicken soup could be one of the reasons behind the soup’s ability to mitigate symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold.” That’s where I also found that using Chicken Soup as a cold remedy didn’t just come from grandma. It’s been prescribed for centuries. In fact, the 12th century Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides is said to have advised patients to consume chicken soup for respiratory tract relief.
National Soup Month in Jan. dates back to 1986 when the Campbell Soup Company promoted the first one. Obviously, they had a commercial reason for doing so but it was certainly an easy promotion to start. Almost everyone eats some type of soup. I know my favorites are: Chicken Noodle, Beef Minestrone, and French Onion. How about you? Do you enjoy a good tomato soup with your grilled cheese sandwich? A creamy New England Clam Chowder? Perhaps a Belgium Waterzooi or a Mexican Tortilla soup? What about a French shrimp bisque or a Vietnamese “Pho” soup? Are you like me and many college students and have a cabinet full of various Japanese created “Ramen” noodle soups?
If you’re an adventurous type, National Soup Month is a great time to go exploring new soups to try. Wikipedia and many internet sites have lists and recipes of many soups to include Gazpacho from Spain, Egg drop from China, Cioppino from San Francisco, and Borscht from Eastern Europe. One soup that New Year’s Eve party goers might want to explore is Aguadito from Peru. This is a green soup typically made with cilantro, vegetables like carrots and peas, and potatoes. It may have chicken or mussels and fish in it as well as yellow chili pepper and other spices. According to Wikipedia’s list of soups, “it is known for having a potential for easing or alleviating symptoms associated with the hangover.” So, no matter what your favorite soup is or why you like it; Jan. is your month to enjoy them. Happy slurping!