Soup and Soup: A Brief History

For my grandmother, the essence of health was soup. She saves you from flu, rheumatism, food poisoning. A vegetable or chicken soup was an injection of antibodies and vitamins. Something is true, doctors and nutritionists tell us. This explains the fact that the soup and its more concentrated and spicy version, the soup, are, along with other dishes, indispensable in the menu of Romanians. Indeed, as historians say, the history of soup is probably as old as that of cooking. The French consomme, the Spanish gazpacho soup, the Russian borscht, the Italian minestrone or the Chinese wonton are variations on the same theme.

The chefs have only adapted the recipe to the local taste and ingredients. Since they were easily digested, soups were prescribed for healing the sick since ancient times. Furthermore, the modern catering industry is based on soup, and it is no wonder that the first courses sold in restaurants in 18th century Paris were restorative, that is, restorative, strengthening.

But the history of the soup begins much earlier. In Sanskrit the word soup means stuffed food. Historians claim that the earliest records of the soup date back to the 6th millennium BC. Apparently it was cooked with hippo meat. Historian John Ayto argues (in An AZ of Food and Drink) that this word could be a post-classical Latin construct apparently taken from a prehistoric Germanic root: sup. Hence the form suppa, soupsi soupe.

Spahi soups

The soup arrived on the Romanians’ table on a historical whim, having previously been boiled in the cauldrons and cauldrons of the Spahi troops of the Ottoman Empire. It was so closely related to the image of the Ottoman military troops that the leaders of the spahi regiments were known by the title of ciorbagii; perhaps also because next to their tent there was always that of the potter, where the best bacon or mutton soups were prepared, flavored with a few sprigs of mint, vegetables, pepper and, for decoration, fresh parsley. In Turkish, the famous stew is called çorba, a word derived from the Arabic šorba (šarâb).

If we follow these words we will notice that they draw the map of the Ottoman conquests. The Greeks after the conquest of Constantinople, when they were intensely Turkified for four centuries, know it as τσορβάς (ţorbas). Even today they make tchorba totsita, that is the soup with periwinkles, which is prepared by boiling the bones first for the soup. Perisho are then made of ground beef (or mixed meat), mixed with pepper and salt, which are boiled for a quarter of an hour in water. The syrup is soured not with borsch or lemon, but with vinegar and a little chilli powder, tempered in oil, is added to flavor.

Bulgarians, Serbs, Croats and Albanians also cook it with various names derived from the Turkish word. Bulgarians, for example, cook bean tchorba, that is bean soup, which is prepared like the Romanian one, by soaking the beans and then boiling them with chopped vegetables, peppers and tomatoes. Shkembe soup is somewhat similar to belly soup, except that a few cloves of garlic are crushed into it, the cheese is grated, and it is flavored with bay leaf and marjoram.

Aphrodite and the nights of love

The soup apparently followed a different path. The etymology tells us that this word reached us on a Romanesque path, passing from the Neo Greek word σοῦπα, through the Italian suppa, to the French word soupe.

The Homeric texts also smell of soup. The egg and lemon soup (avgolemono) was created, it is said, to evoke the nights of love to the goddess Aphrodite. Chicken strips, rice or barley and vegetables are boiled. After filtering the juice and setting the meat and vegetables aside, let them cool, then add the egg yolks and the juice of one lemon. Mix everything and then boil over low heat. Canned or dehydrated soup was invented as early as the 19th century.

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