Wherever home may be, a kitchen with a simmering soup kettle will take you there in a blink. Soup has the power to conjure up warmth, comfort, satisfaction and profoundly sated hunger. It is the great-grandmother of all forms of stew, gumbos and chowders. It provides filling nourishment and, the Soup Nazi notwithstanding, it is an inclusive, encompassing and versatile dish, or bowl if you prefer.
One can readily understand the need to extend the life of precious food to feed more people. Some clever early cook added water to the semi-sealable hide cookware of the time and invented soup. In China, after they invented clay cookware, archeologists have found the remains of 22,000-year-old soup. There was a reason that spoons were invented before forks. There is an old European folk story called Stone Soup in which a couple of very hungry travelers with nothing more than pebbles in their pockets arrive in a poor village. No one was prosperous, it had been a hard winter and no one had more than a few root vegetables left in their stores. The travelers claimed to have magic stones and suggested that if everyone would contribute a little bit of something, they would all be able to eat heartily. And they did. It was duck soup.
Every cuisine, nation and ethnic group has a soup specialty. Being a melting pot, our American culture has had the benefit of adopting and adapting many into our own kitchens. Eastern Europe for example, has provided at least ten borscht variations alone. Some are hot and restoring, other cold and refreshing. There are clear soups and consommés, cream soups and veloutés, chowders and bisques, potages and gumbos to mention a few. Each one gifted with its own sustenance and gratification.
As the technology in our kitchens grows, we gain contemporary accessories such as blenders, food processors and fine sieves to lend a hand in the creation of satisfying soups. While I love eating (never have figured out why it isn’t drinking) soup, I love making it more. Chicken soup isn’t alone when it comes to being good for the soul.
This week’s recipe comes from our indefatigable Market Master, Kay Carroll, though where she finds the time is beyond me. It is a Creamy Turnip Soup, with a full-bodied flavor that belies the fact that it is reasonably quick and uncomplicated. In fact, it has become a favorite tasting recipe at the market, one that is constantly being re-requested. Once you’ve tried that, check out the other soup recipes on the web site. I suspect there’s probably one for every vegetable on the farmers’ tables.