Soup is a classic way to prepare a hearty meal all over the world. Not many of us think about where soup originated or why it is a staple food for everyone, but soup has a long and fascinating history. Here is a brief overview of the origins of this simple but incredibly popular dish.
The Earliest Known Soup Recipes
Archaeologists believe that humans have been making soup for at least 20,000 years. Humans started making soup with the advent of waterproof containers like clay pots. Our ancient ancestors would take these clay pots, fill them with meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and herbs, then boil the contents over hot rocks. Many believe the very first soups were actually gruels, a mixture of boiled grains and water, similar to today’s oatmeal or grits. Soups helped expand the diet of our ancestors and allowed them to eat a broader variety of food.
Soup By Any Other Name
There’s a couple theories on where soup got its name. The first is that it comes from ancient Rome, based on the Latin word “suppa” which means bread in broth. The other is that it comes from the Germanic word “sop” which means the bread used to soak up stew. However, most historians believe the modern English word comes from the French word “soupe” which means soup or broth.
The Very First Menu Item
Many historians believe that the origins of modern restaurants began with places that served soup. In the 16th Century in Paris, public restaurants started opening and served different varieties of soup including broths, stews, and bouillon. These soup restaurants were named “restoratifs,” meaning a place to restore. The word restoratif is where we got the modern word restaurant.
The Ultimate Traveler’s Diet
In the 18th Century, soup experience another advancement with the invent of “pocket soup.” Pocket soup was perfect for travelers from explorers to military soldiers. Pocket soup contained small portable packets of dried ingredients that could be easily made on the go and provided all the nutrition travelers needed with none of the fuss. These were then followed by canned and dehydrated soup mixes.
The long history of soup has had a profound impact on humanity. Soup was a staple food for rich and poor, that crossed cultures, and lead to the modern restaurants we enjoy today. The long history of soup is also why we have so many great recipes and varieties that can be enjoyed today.