Soup isn’t beautiful to Bob’s taste buds

Soup isn't beautiful to Bob's taste buds By Bob Karolevitz Phyllis loves soup. The more vegetables and noodles it has in it, the better she likes it.

Me? I can take it or leave it, but I prefer the latter.

Oh, I enjoy an occasional serving of bean soup, if it isn't full of celery, carrots and other non-bean stuff. The same is true of clam chowder.

On the other hand, spare me from bouillabaisse, barley-and-rice, ox tail, split pea and other concoctions which may whet some appetites but don't do a thing for mine.

Phyllis uses the time-honored phrase when she puts a bowlful of vegetable beef before me. "Eat it! It's good for you," she says, with all the emphasis of a mother to a nine-year-old child.

Of course I do as I'm told, but it doesn't mean I like it.

Soup goes back to Biblical times when Jacob had his "pottage of lentils." It's been big in literature, too, from Lewis Carroll's "beautiful soup" in Alice in Wonderland to Robert Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin when the rats "licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles."

Then there were the three bears in Goldilocks who wondered "who's been eating my porridge?" Porridge, by the way, was a kind of soup like in the nursery rhyme:

Pease porridge hot,

Pease porridge cold;

Pease porridge in the pot

Nine days old.

But now I'm telling you more than you ever wanted to know.

Every country has its own variety, like the Chinese wonton and bird's nest soup, the Spanish puchero and the French pot-au-feu. I'm glad I'm not Russian because I don't think I could handle the beet-based borsch, although Polish cabbage soup doesn't sound so good to me either.

Speaking of Poland, they tell me that both Ignace Paderewski and Leopold Stokowski ate breakfast soups to prepare them for concerts, but I think that's too big a price to pay to be a musical success.

Getting back to my own case, I remember Sunday evenings as a kid. That's when Mother would get out the navy beans to sort out the black and mottled ones. The rest would be soaked and then go into the pot for soup on Monday, which was wash day when she didn't have time to cook a regular meal.

She also would gather the leaves of a weed called lamb's quarters which, with potatoes, she made into another Depression-era soup. I suppose I ate it, but Phyllis doesn't need to go scrounging for lamb's quarters just for nostalgia's sake.

They've been canning soup in England since the very early 1800s, but it was John Dorrance of Camden, New Jersey, who came up with the idea of condensing it in 1897. That's when the Campbell Soup Company was born, and it's still in Camden, incidentally.

All of which leads me to my current dilemma. Phyllis has the cupboard full of cans of Campbell's soup which she opens more often than I'd like. She's also made Buckeye Bean Soup for which the recipe calls for wine. The instructions on the box recommends an occasional nip for the cook, too, which sounds like something Julia Child would go for.

I don't know where the expression "duck soup" came from. Nor do I know how a souped-up car connects to the eating stuff. It certainly doesn't mean adding minestrone to the carburetor, even in Italian cars.

Which brings me to Guiseppe Verdi, the composer. It is said that he ate large bowls of noodle soup for inspiration. Maybe I should do that, too � but then I'd probably write operas instead of columns like this.

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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