As the world's first prepared dish, soup has been at the forefront of filling and nutritious meals since rudimentary cooking vessels like troughs, animal hides, and even earthen pots were finally replaced by more durable and versatile metal pots and cauldrons. With this development, man advanced from simply eating wild grains, seeds, or meat placed in or near a fire to preparing honest-to-goodness soups and stews that followed some vague notion of food as a pleasing experience rather than the simple necessity of fueling the body. Soup became the unpretentious, unparalleled comfort food for all of civilization, the one dish that would, in turn, sustain thousands of ancient Roman plebeians, millions of medieval peasants, and countless settlers of the New World. This book provides a comprehensive culinary history of soup in all its forms, from the days of stone boilers through the food rationing of World War II.
Part One provides an overview of the earliest cuisines of the ancient world, including rudimentary soup recipes in the ancient empires of Egypt, Greece, and Rome and their later adaptation to form the culinary backbone of national cuisines in Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, and other European nations. Part Two examines soup in the New World, identifying the vegetables and grains used in the earliest soups of Native American tribes; the more meat- and fish-based soups and chowders introduced to the New World by settlers; military rations and wartime soups from the American Revolution to World War II; the influence of slavery on Caribbean and Southern cuisine; and the history of soup kitchens and philanthropic cuisine since the Great Depression. Appendix One provides a reference guide to vegetables and herbs used in centuries-old soup recipes, including the dates or period during which each was used, a discussion of period cooking techniques, and a brief account of each ingredient's use through the ages. Appendix Two contains dozens of original soup recipes from the medieval era through World War II.