National Soup Day honors the rich history and diverse array of soups enjoyed worldwide. Originating from humble beginnings, soup has evolved into a culinary staple cherished for its warmth, comfort, and versatility. From ancient civilizations to modern kitchens, the art of soup-making offers a canvas for creativity and tradition alike. Whether it’s a hearty vegetable medley or a savory meat broth, soup transcends seasons, cultures, and tastes. As I took a dive into the realm of soup, I discovered not just recipes, but also accompanying stories—each bowl carrying with it a tale of tradition, innovation, or perhaps even a touch of magic. Before we get to magic, we have to start at the beginning…

What is Soup?

According to an article by Karen Hanner at Feeding America, “the word soup comes from French soupe (“soup,” “broth”), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop,” a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.”

Sarah Zielinski at NPR reports: “Though today the varieties of soup are endless, through much of human history, this meal was much simpler, requiring nothing more than a hunk of meat or vegetable in warm water.” She goes on to say that humans were concocting soup at least twenty-five thousand years ago. That’s some staying power!

National Soup Day

Soup is so popular, in fact, it even has its own day—February 4, National Soup Day—a day when you will either be celebrating the end of winter or lamenting six more weeks of snow and cold based on the appearance of a rodent named Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Either way, it’s a perfect day for a steamy bowl of veggie or meat medley.

In addition to providing comfort on a blustery day, soup is the most forgiving culinary concoction—there’s not a whole lot you can do that’ll ruin a pot of soup…and it’s easily fixable when you do err. If you add too much salt, toss in a potato to absorb it and remove the potato before serving. If your soup is too thin, add rice or barley for absorption or consider adding a roux. If it’s too thick, more water or broth will fix it right up. Soup tasting a little flat? Try adding an acid in the form of tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or pickles. Yes, pickles. Want to add umami? Use a can of dark beer as your first cup of water or try adding soy sauce or tamari.

What is Stir~Simmer~Savor?

Stir~Simmer~Savor is more than a collection of recipes. I am putting together a collection of delicious soups as well as accompanying anecdotes: Was the recipe a family secret handed down through generations or one modified from your favorite food blogger? Does the soup have magical medicinal powers that you swear will cure anything from asthma to zits? The recipes will stimulate another level of curiosity. Where the hell do I buy pigs’ feet? Do I even want to taste soup made with pigs’ feet? What makes New Mom Soup so special? Let’s find out! When I’ve mentioned my desire to create a soup repository, nearly everyone has a recipe and often a story to go with it. Though I have to admit my audience has been from the Gen X generation or older; the fast food generation might have a different take…

As I wandered through a bookstore recently and opened A Cookbook for Millennials, I flipped to the soup section—a one-page entry with exactly two words: “F*ck Soup!” Really? I thought. But I get it—homemade soup requires desire, time, and a dash of creativity. For a really delicious soup, you have to put in more effort than opening a can and punching a few microwave buttons or, more likely, a food delivery without ever setting foot in the kitchen. It seems millennials and Gen Z have yet to discover the magic of soup. (I bought the book because the writing was entertaining and funny and my sons are millenials who need all the help they can get in the kitchen!)

Bring on the Magic

By throwing plants, spices, and animal parts into a cauldron of boiling liquid following instructions written by our ancestors we transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. There’s an alchemy at play there. These fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs, and tender meats meld together, creating a symphony of flavors. But it’s more than just taste that enchants; soup has a knack for soothing the soul and comforting the spirit—and sometimes the body. Soup has an uncanny ability to evoke memories, heal ailments, and bring people together. It’s more than just a meal—it’s a potion of warmth, nourishment, and love, brewed with care and served with generosity. Magic!

Go celebrate National Soup Day!