Ode to Soup

January is National Soup Month

There is something elemental about soup. Some of my deepest food-related memories are of soups: My grandma's bean soup made with the leftover bone from the Christmas ham that somehow made the end of the holidays and back to school almost tolerable; the packets of Lipton chicken soup, salty as the Dead Sea with the fine, rice grain-sized noodles that my mother made me when I was sick and that was always eaten sitting on blankets in front of the television watching strange daytime TV of the 60s and 70s--things like The Galloping Gourmet, Hawaiian Eye, and roller derby; The delicious seafood stew eaten at a beachside cabana outside San Blás that gave me about 48 hours of fever, delirium and the sort of volcanic bodily expulsions that in less enlightened times would have been sovereign proof of demonic possession.

All known cultures make soups. Why? Because a basic soup is both easy to make and infinitely flexible. If there's anything the lean times throughout human history have taught us it is that if you simmer anything long enough it will eventually become edible. Our love of soup is all but hardwired into us. Humans, like all other mammals, gestate in the warm broth of the womb. It's easy to imagine some alien demiurge striding across the inchoate earth billions of years ago, pausing to kneel and idly stir a primordial puddle with an incandescent index finger and in so doing, both starting history's first soup and sparking the long slow chain reaction that eons later leads to one of us huddled over a steaming kettle on our space age digital cooktop.

Soup is comfort food and a bowl of memories. A simmering pot of soup makes even the humblest hovel a home. Celebrate National Soup Month with these cookbooks, and other soup-related items from our collections.

View Full List