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Soup is a primarily liquid food, generally served warm (but may be cool or cold), that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, forming a broth.
Traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream. Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include egg, rice, lentils, flour and grains, many popular soups also include carrots and potatoes.
Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, soups generally have more liquid than stews.
Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used. This method was also used to cook acorns and other plants.
The word soup comes from French soupe "soup" "broth" which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa "bread soaked in broth" from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word "sop" a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.
Doctor John T. Dorrance, a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company, invented condensed soup in 1897. Today, Campbell's Tomato, Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Noodle Soup are three of the most popular soups in America. Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.
Canned soup can be condensed, in which case it is prepared by adding water or sometimes milk, or it can be "ready-to-eat" meaning that no additional liquid is needed before eating. Canned soup condensed with liquid added or "ready-to-eat" can be prepared by heating in a pan, on the stovetop or in the microwave. Such soups can be used as a base for homemade soups, with the consumer adding anything from a few vegetables to eggs, meat, cream or pasta.
Condensing soup allows soup to be packaged into a smaller can and sold at a lower price than other canned soups. The soup is usually doubled in volume by adding a "can full" of water or milk (about 10 ounces).
Since the 1990’s, the canned soup market has burgeoned with soups marketed as "ready-to-eat" which require no additional liquid to prepare. Microwaveable bowls have expanded the ready-to-eat canned soup market even more, offering convenience (especially in workplaces) and are popular lunch items. In response to concern over the health effects of excessive salt intake, some soup manufacturers have introduced reduced-salt versions of popular soups.
Dry soup mixes are sold by many manufacturers, and are reconstituted with hot water; other fresh ingredients may then be added. The first dried soup was bouillon cubes; the earlier meat extract did not require refrigeration, but was a viscous liquid.
Dried ramen noodle soups are popular lunch items. East Asian-style instant noodle soups include ramen and seasonings, and are marketed as a convenient and inexpensive instant meal, requiring only hot water for preparation.
Western-style dried soups include vegetable, chicken base, potato, pasta and cheese flavours.
In French cuisine, soup is often served before other dishes in a meal. In 1970, Richard Olney gave the place of the entrée in a French full menu: "A dinner that begins with a soup and runs through a fish course, an entrée, a sorbet, a roast, salad, cheese and dessert, and that may be accompanied by from three to six wines, presents a special problem of orchestration".
Chè, a Vietnamese cold dessert soup containing sugar and coconut milk, with many different varieties of other ingredients including taro, cassava, adzuki bean, mung bean, jackfruit and durian.
Ginataan, Filipino soup made from coconut milk, milk, fruits and tapioca pearls, served hot or cold
Shiruko, a Japanese azuki bean soup
Tong sui, a collective term for Chinese sweet soups
Sawine, a soup made with milk, spices, parched vermicelli, almonds and dried fruits, served during the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr in Trinidad and Tobago
Chinese dessert soups include douhua and black sesame soup
Fruit soups are prepared using fruit as a primary ingredient, and may be served warm or cold depending on the recipe. Many varieties of fruit soups exist, and they may be prepared based upon the availability of seasonal fruit.
Cold soups are a particular variation on the traditional soup, wherein the temperature when served is kept at or below room temperature. They may be sweet or savoury. In summer, sweet cold soups can form part of a dessert tray. An example of a savoury chilled soup is gazpacho, a chilled vegetable-based soup originating from Spain. Another example is mool naeng myun which is a Korean cold beef broth.
A feature of East Asian soups not normally found in Western cuisine is the use of tofu in soups. Many traditional East Asian soups are typically broths "clear soups" or starch thickened soups.
Some Famous Soups of the World
Ajiaco - From Colombia, you have the Ajiaco, which ingredients typically include chicken, corn, at least two kinds of potatoes, sour cream, capers, avocado, and guasca.
Albondigas - A traditional Mexican meatball soup made with sautéed onions, garlic, broth, and tomatoes.
Avgolemono - Avgolemono in Greece means egg-lemon. This soup contains chicken, lemon and egg as its main ingredient.
Borscht - The strong red coloured vegetable soup from Eastern Europe that includes beet roots as its main.
Bouillabaisse - Bouillabaisse, originating all the way from the city of Marseille of France, is usually a fish stock containing different kinds of cooked fish and shellfish which usually are complemented with garlic, orange peel, basil, bay leaf, fennel and saffron.
Broccoli Cheese - The perfect broccoli cheese soup is thick, creamy and cheesy.
Caldo verde - From the province of Minho, Northern Portugal comes this soup made of mashed potatoes, minced collard greens, savoy cabbage, kale, onions and slices of chorizo.
Callaloo - The thick, creamy soup made with okra and crab meat from Trinidad and Tobago.
Chicken Soup - The world’s most famous soup made from chicken, simmered in water, usually with various other ingredients.
Chlodnik - A cold variety of borsch — beetroot soup traditional to some Northern European and Slavic countries made with sour cream, soured milk, kefir or yoghurt, radishes or cucumbers, garnished with dill or parsley.
Clam Chowder - A New England soup that contains clams with potatoes, onions and bacon. When done right, clam chowder should be rich and filling, but not sludgy or stew-like. Its texture should be creamy without feeling leaden, like you’re sipping on gravy. Tender chunks of potato should barely hold their shape, dissolving on your tongue, their soft texture contrasting with tender bites of salty pork and briny clam.
Cock-a-leekie - From Scotland, the soup dish of leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and sometimes with a hint of prunes.
Cullen Skink - From the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland comes the soup that is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners. Always thick with smoked Finnan haddock, potatoes and onions as its ingredients.
Egg Drop - A Chinese soup of beaten eggs, chicken broth and boiled water. Condiments such as table salt, black pepper, and green onion are also commonly added.
Erwtensoep - A thick pea soup, eaten in the Netherlands as a winter dish, traditionally served with sliced sausage.
Faki soupa - Lentils as its main, this Greek soup is both healthy and filling. It has since been made popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Others include onions, carrots, olive oil, parsley and possibly tomato sauce or vinegar.
Fanesca - Traditional to Ecuador, Fanesca is usually served the week before Easter and typically includes figleaf gourd, pumpkin, and twelve different kinds of grains (representing the disciples of Jesus), and salt cod (due to the belief that you must not eat red meat during these days).
Fasolada - Sometimes referred to as the ‘national food of the Greeks’. Fasolada is a soup of dry white beans, olive oil and vegetables.
French Onion Soup - An onion and beef broth or a beef stock based soup traditionally served with croutons and cheese as toppings.
Fufu and Egusi - From Nigeria, Fufu and Egusi soup is made with vegetables, meat, fish and balls of wheat gluten.
Gazpacho - Hailing from Spain, this vegetable soup is popular in warmer areas and during the summer, particularly in Spain’s Andalusia and Portugal’s Alentejo and Algarve regions. Gazpacho is a concoction of bread, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar.
Ginataan - A dessert soup from the Philippines whose name is derived from the Filipino word for coconut milk ‘gata’, the main ingredient in the soup.
Ginseng - A very popular type of health soup found in Chinese & Korean communities made out of Ginseng roots. Chicken and other herbs and spices are often added to it.
Goulash - The Hungarian spicy dish, made of beef, onions, red peppers and paprika powder. Goulash draws its name from the Hungarian word for a cattle stockman / herdsman.
Gumbo - Originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century, gumbo consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.
Harira - Harira is a famous Moroccan soup that uses lamb, fresh tomatoes, chickpeas and lentils, flavoured with harissa hot sauce.
Hot and Sour Soup - Hot and sour soup is a Chinese soup claimed variously by the regional cuisines of Beijing and Sichuan as a regional dish. Hot and sour soup is a lot like chilli, every family has their own recipe, and each family thinks that theirs is the best.
Kimchi jigae - A variety of jjigae or stew-like Korean dish made with kimchi and other ingredients, such as scallions, onions, diced tofu, pork, and seafood, although pork and seafood are generally not used in the same recipe.
Lablabi - A straightforward Tunisian garlic and cumin flavoured chickpea soup served over small pieces of stale crusty bread.
Lobster Bisque - Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth of lobsters.
Menudo - A traditional Mexican soup largely made out of tripe and hominy. It is considered by some as a cure for hangovers.
Minestrone - From Italy comes this vegetarian soup, made thick with the addition of pasta or rice. Beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock and tomatoes are commonly added to it.
Miso soup - Japan’s most famous soup made from fish broth, fermented soy and ‘dashi’.
Mulligatawny Soup - An Anglo-Indian curried soup which means ‘pepper water’ in Tamil.
Iskembe Çorbasi - A type of tripe soup often seasoned with vinegar or lemon juice, prepared in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.
Pasulj - A type of bean dish also popular throughout the Balkan nations. It is normally prepared with meat, particularly smoked meat such as smoked bacon, smoked sausage, and smoked joints, and is a typical winter dish.
Pho - The Vietnamese beef/chicken soup cooked with scallion, onion, ginger, wild coriander, basil, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and black cardamom.
Pozole - A pre-Columbian soup made from hominy, with pork, chilli and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbage, lettuce, oregano, cilantro, avocado, radish, lime juice.
Rassolnik - Rassolnik, made with kidneys or giblets and pickles, is known for hangover relief because rassol, the brining liquid from pickles, contains vitamins which help the body to hold water and counteract dehydration produced by drinking too much, which causes hangovers.
Sambar - also spelt sambhar, is a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind. It is popular in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines.
Scotch Broth - A filling soup from Scotland which principal ingredients are usually barley, a cut of beef or lamb, carrots, turnip or swede, cabbage and leeks.
Shark Fin - A Chinese delicacy commonly served as part of a Chinese feast, usually at special occasions such as weddings and banquets as a symbol of wealth and prestige.
Shchav - A sorrel soup in Polish, Russian and Yiddish cuisines made from water, sorrel leaves, salt and egg yolks which is often served cold with sour cream.
Solyanka - Cabbage soup from Russia made of mainly three different kinds of main ingredient being either meat, fish or mushrooms. All of them contain pickled cucumbers with brine, and often cabbage, salty mushrooms, cream and dill.
Sopa Negra - Black bean soup Costa Rican style made of black beans, chicken broth, eggs, fresh cilantro, onions, garlic and sweet pepper.
Sour Soup - A Vietnamese dish made with rice, fish, various vegetables, and in some cases pineapple.
Tarator - A cold soup popular in the summertime in Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia made from yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, nuts, dill, vegetable oil, and water.
Tomato Soup - Tomato soup, a very popular comfort food in Poland and United States, is made in a variety of ways.
Tom Kha Gai - Made with coconut milk, galangal, lemon grass and chicken. The fried chillies add a smoky flavour as well as texture, colour and heat, but not so much that it overwhelms the soup.
Tom Yam - One of the most famous dishes in Thai cuisine known for its distinct hot and sour flavours made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots, lemon juice, fish sauce, tamarind and crushed chillies.
Torpedo - Found commonly in parts of Malaysia especially Penang, Sup Torpedo is a type of exotic soup that includes the penis of a bull as the main ingredient. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac.
Trahana - Dried foods based on a fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk, usually consumed as soup found in Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Iraq. The Turkish tarhana consists of cracked wheat, yoghurt, and vegetables fermented then dried. The Greek trahana contains only cracked wheat and yoghurt.
Vichyssoise - A French style soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock traditionally served cold.
Waterzooi - Means “watery mess’ in Dutch. Made of fish or chicken, carrots, leeks, potatoes, herbs, eggs, cream and butter.
Zurek - A soup made from soured rye flour and meat, which is specific to Poland and other northern Slavonic nations such as Slovakia.