What is soup? It’s a question that (not surprisingly) often goes unasked. But as fate would have it, yesterday three seemingly unrelated events led me to wonder just that.
The first event: I had cereal for breakfast. No big deal.
The second: I had broccoli rabe for lunch. I made it by sautéing some garlic and onion, adding the rabe and seasoning, and steaming it all with the addition of chicken stock. The thing is, either I added too much stock or didn’t steam it long enough, because the finished product was definitely a little wetter than usual. After eating the veggies with a fork, I was forced to tip the plate and slurp the residual stock (etiquette that I’m sure my roommates appreciated).
The third event: Laura made carrot soup for dinner. Awesome stuff. It was delicious, beautifully colored, and – because it was unstrained – had the consistency of applesauce rather than of carrot juice.
Now here’s where the cosmos begin to align.
I had to ask Laura what she did to make such tasty soup. “Simple,” she said. “I sautéed some garlic and onion, added the carrots with pumpkin spice, cooked it in chicken stock, and pureed it.” Bam. The information hits me like a brick – my eyes go white and the day’s events flash before them like the ending of The Sixth Sense. The carrot soup was made virtually identically to my broccoli rabe!
The realization begged the question: where was the line? If I had pureed my rabe before, would it have been soup? What if I had just eaten it with a spoon? Or from a bowl? And what about my cereal? Could I have started my day with a bowl of cold breakfast chowder? The questions began to blur like freshly stirred miso. They were as sticky as porridge and burned like pho. Was there a difference between salsa and gazpacho? Between beans and chili? Between mashed potatoes and baked potato soup?
I know – intense. Now it’s very possible that these questions have no answers. Even more likely is that the answers would have very little meaning anyway. Still, think of the possibilities yet untapped. What is there to gain by lifting these self-imposed restrictions on soup?
It’s going to be a long and cold soup season. If you have any ideas that will mix things up (or puree them, or strain them) feel free to share.