Get ready for a weird column and a fun challenge. Today, I’m writing on the fascinating (to me) subject of soup. 

My husband Fred tolerated my love of homemade soup, but never quite believed it added up to a meal. Further, while he liked it and ate it (in the proper season) he never quite understood my devotion to it, and my belief that soup is a balm for both body and soul.

I’m grateful that my daughter Patrice has inherited my love of soup, and that making it has become an enjoyable shared activity for us. 

As a lifelong food geek, I can tell you that the history of soup is really a history of human civilization. It is first evidenced about 20,000 BC in Xianrendong Cave, Jiangxi Province, China. It is believed that humans began making soup as soon as they learned to made clay and other fire resistant cooking vessels. 

The etymology of soup is fascinating. Yes, I’m also a lifelong language and history geek. The English word 'soup' comes from the French term 'soupe.' That word, meanwhile, has its origins in the Vulgar Latin term 'suppa' which means a bread soaked in broth. Interestingly, even the concept of our modern restaurant is related to soup. In the 16th century, street vendors in Paris used to sell delicious liquids called 'restauratiffs' to common people. Later, these pop up stands that sold restaurantiffs became known as restaurants.

So from our first humble, cooked communal meals to modern restaurants, soup is a common denominator. 

I think of my own family and how I loved coming into my Nana’s kitchen and smelling homemade soup on the stove, then spending so many days with her, learning how to combine and nuance the flavors of meat, fish, vegetables, spices, grains and even fruits to create beautiful, soothing broths. I smile when I think of my dad at nana and papa’s kitchen table sitting down for a lunch of homemade chicken soup. He was so predictable. He came in with papa after a morning of working on a car or truck out in the driveway, walked in and asked “what’s to eat?”, already knowing that nana had made soup, he poured himself a tall glass of iced tea or milk, opened the pantry and grabbed the big box of saltines, then sat down at the opposite head of the table from papa. While everyone was dishing up, he’d spend several minutes buttering up close to twenty saltine crackers. He lined them all up in front of his bowl. Then it was a game to either sneak them away from him or talk him out of them. Eventually, we all had 4 or 5 buttered crackers in front of us. Homemade chicken soup with buttered saltines is pretty hard to beat both as a meal, and a sweet memory of mine.

My girlfriend Jhona has made soup her family’s main course for supper for as long as I can remember. It’s probably one of the things that drew me to her. We both believe in using what we have and not wasting food. Being frugal and making the most of simple ingredients in order to feed a family or a crowd just makes good sense. It’s also healthy and delicious. Each fall, for when our kids were in elementary school, our families got together before our little school’s Halloween party and costume parade. Our kids loved to come up with group costumes that almost always took first prize. While we got them dressed and made up, Jhona always made us a wonderful soup supper. Her folks, the DeLongs, and her in laws, the Bells would usually come over, and we’d revel in our kids over soup and conversation. It’s one of my very favorite memories. 

Another is Christmas Eve, when Fred’s folks, Fred, Patrice and I would get together at Les and Marie’s house for gift giving and a hearty supper of homemade clam chowder. Our old friend Bob Humphrey usually joined us, and it was always a special treat when Fred’s sister Debbie and our lifelong friend Ron Unger would pull into the ranch as well. A simple soup dinner took the burdens of cooking and cleaning up off everyone and we were free to laugh, tell and listen to stories and really enjoy each other’s company. 

So on that note, I come to my fun challenge to anyone reading this column. Let’s share our favorite soup stories, traditions and recipes with each other and our whole community.

If you’ll write yours down and either mail them, email them or text them to me. I’ll collect and edit them and then, we’ll work together to publish them for everyone to enjoy. Can’t think of a better winter project than reading soup stories and recipes, and even sampling a few!

Here are a couple of our favorites in the meantime. 

To get those soup recipes, stories, traditions or pictures to me, here is my contact information. 

Kris Stewart

Box 45

Paradise Valley, NV 89426

or feel free to message me via Facebook where my account is Kris Cook Stewart.

Kris Stewart is a rancher from Paradise Valley, Nevada.