‘Stone Soup’, the popular fable of all times, might bring back memories of being in school when we looked forward to hearing stories from our teachers, parents and grandparents. This medieval folk tale amazes us as to how three weary and hungry comrades taught some villagers to prepare a luscious meal that caters to everyone — even with an inadequate food supply.
Certainly, it is the scrumptious and tantalising soup that does it all. Indeed, winters have arrived and so has the trend of a wide range of soups before almost every meal. Relaxing with a bowl of hot soup is the most soothing and complementing combination in winters. Regardless of age and culture, the warmth of soups on a cold night under our cosy comforters is an experience that remains homogenous yet unfathomable to everyone.
What Huma Khan, a working woman, learned from the story is, “Soups are the easiest and filling food that I prepare hurriedly for my husband and myself. Soups are nutritious and the least time-consuming.” It is interesting to note that many people intentionally make their respective diet plans in winters and consider soups as an essential part and sometimes, the only component. “Winters are the best time when I can really eat healthy and rigidly follow my diet pattern,” Khan adds gleefully.
The journey of soups that started from a meal only accommodating the sick and the elderly for its light constituents made its way promptly to appeal to the tastes of people of all ages, with gradual yet multiple variations according to the diverse interests. It is rather amusing to know that the earliest restaurants were actually soup houses. It was merely these soups, which were called restorantes, today’s restaurants, evolved to be a place offering main meals in the eighteenth century. More amusingly, one tends to ‘eat’ soup in English, while ‘drink’ it in Japanese. The list of varieties go on from mixed vegetables to soups made from specific vegetables, from meat/chicken soups to soups made with bones, from seafood soups to rice soups, from thick creamy soups to well-seasoned stock and noodles. The list goes on varying from region to region, bringing to us mouth-watering experiences.
Nevertheless, the other side of the picture reflects the same sort of merriness. Soups prove to be lucrative on the part of the culinary business dealers. “Winters are what we look forward to,” says Bahadur Ali who works as a cook at a local catering service provider. “More people tend to place orders for different kinds of soups for their weddings and other events according to their budgets,” he explains. Ali cites that this is the season when their work hour’s increase as soft drinks tends to be substituted with a variety of soups, which adds up as an extra task along with an extra amount of money in comparison to the former.
Soups ideal for this season are:
• Mixed vegetable soups
• Potato and carrot soups
• Pasta bean soups
• Sweetened red bean soups
• Chicken corn soup
• Hot and sour
The readily accessible packets of soup mixtures with rich flavours these days have made the task effortless. Although the nutritional value of soups primarily depends upon the ingredients made to use, majority of the soups provide us with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, a lot of minerals and vitamins.
Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul might have incorporated 101 inspirational stories for every living individual’s development but a bowl of piping hot soup on a cold day has no comparison.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.
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