“Beautiful soup, so rich and green
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful soup!”
My grandmother’s most frequently cooked homemade soup
Was a Dutch clear chicken broth
Laced with tiny dumplings
Which we pronounced “riv-a-lees”
And thought were very good
With a chunk of hot, freshly made
In recent years I began wondering
What Grandma had done
With the rest of the chicken
And I was admonished once,
By Aunt Annie,
When I put all of the de-boned chicken
Back into the soup pot.
My justification was
I liked ingredients in my soup.
The soup most often served by my mother
Was a homemade meat and vegetable soup
Made with beef bones (that were
Given away free by the butcher),
And cooked with potatoes and carrots.
The bones and vegetables were removed
Near dinnertime, and
Noodles added to the broth.
That’s how we ate the soup.
We had potatoes and carrots
While my father and brothers
spread the bone marrow
On saltine crackers.
A treat lauded now by Martha Stewart,
We thought it was simply the fare
Of poor people.
My soups are seldom without a myriad of ingredients;
Ham and bean, or
Ham and split pea,
Vegetable beef and barley,
Chinese chicken soup,
Mexican Tortilla soup,
French Onion Soup,
Turkey and Rice
(When I have a turkey carcass)
Tomato Bisque and
Soups so thick
You can stand a spoon
In the pot
And it won’t tip over.
My claim to fame
(If there is such a thing)
Is that I can make a pot of soup
Out of almost anything
Found in the frig or the pantry,
a skill learned, perhaps,
When my sons were children
And we had almost nothing.
If necessity is the mother of invention,
Poverty is the grandmother of culinary creativity.
–Sandra Lee Smith
February 23, 2009