Soup is a flavoursome broth made by cooking vegetables, fish, meat, or grains in specific proportions. There are more than 250 varieties of soups in various cuisines around the globe.
Traditional south Indian dishes like sambar and rasam, too, can be put in the category of soups. The very humble rice water itself can be consumed as rice soup.
Clear soups and thick soups are the two types of soups that are commonly cooked. The clear soups are mostly made using chicken or beef broth/stock. Meanwhile, fresh cream and purees are the prime ingredients in a cream soup.
Soups are loaded with vitamins and essentials nutrients and taste delicious as well. Besides, soups are incredibly easy to prepare and serve, which makes it a popular addition in multi-course meals. They are light on the stomach and ease digestion as well.
Soup is an excellent appetizer that stimulates the digestive process. A bowl of refreshing, warm soup readies the stomach for the dishes that follow. It is a wholesome dish for children, old people, and those who are unwell because soups are light and easily digestible.
The vegetables and the meats in this liquid food are easily assimilated into the body. Moreover, soup is a nutritious dish with fewer calories that do not add up on your body weight. Soups are filling and do not let you overeat. So, liquid foods like these would effectively prevent obesity as they can stretch the muscles in the stomach.
A delicious soup that is loaded with vitamins and nutrients can be made by dry roasting and grinding grains and then boiling them in water. Fish, meat, vegetables or eggs, too, can be added as they give extra nutrition.
History of soups
The history of soups goes back to the history of culinary arts itself. It is believed that the first bowl of soup was prepared around 20,000 BC. It is assumed that early people began cooking broths as soon as they discovered making mud vessels or clay pots. Some historical documents state that soups had become part of the regular menu in many civilizations from 6000 BC onwards.
As time passed, different types of spices, aromatics, and ingredients granted unique flavours and aroma to the soup. If soups were once considered a humble dish that was mostly eaten by patients and poor people, now it is a supreme dish that kick starts a royal buffet.
Humans began consuming cooked food after the discovery of pottery and vessels. Before that, they consumed raw meat and then began roasting it over fire. They began cooking paste-like foods after mud vessels and clay pots became parts of their life.
Experimenting with flavours
Chefs and culinary experts constantly experiment with ingredients and techniques to create varieties of soups in myriad flavours. Fresh and locally-sourced ingredients play vital roles in the creation of unique soup recipes. Meats of different kinds, fish, vegetables and herbs are added in the soups to pack the broth with amazing flavours.
Soups are sold in the markets depending upon their nutritional values. Packaged soups became popular in the 19th century when the technique of canning was discovered. Canned soup, dried soup, microwave-ready soup, portable soup and traveller's soup (pocket soup) are some of the popular varieties of soups. Besides, healthier versions that are storehouses of fibres, less fatty, and sodium-free, too, are very much in demand.
The English word 'soup' comes from the French term 'soupe.' This word, meanwhile, has its origins in the Vulgar Latin term 'suppa' which means a bread soaked in broth. Interestingly, even the concept of restaurant is related to soup. In the 16th century, street vendors in Paris used to sell a delicious liquid paste called 'restauratiffs' to the common people. Later, these kiosks that sold restaurantiffs came to be known as restaurants.
(Information courtesy: Swapna Rajeev, Chief dietician, Rene Medicity, Palarivattom)