I’m Obsessed With Soup, And Science Is On My Side

I can pinpoint the stages of my life by their soups. Each era in my existence can be categorized by whatever brothy, hearty meal I was fixated on at the time.
In elementary school, it was Campbell’s Chunky chicken noodle in a pastel pink thermos my dad would pack in my lunch box. I’d first eaten the classic chicken noodle from Campbell’s—the cans of Andy Warhol fame—but switched to chunky when I saw one of my friends eating it at lunch.
By high school it was French Onion from LongHorn Steakhouse since it was my family’s go-to chain restaurant on particularly busy weekdays. In the years that followed I found myself buying Panera’s chicken tortilla soup from the grocery store since it tasted just like it did at the restaurants, or eating bacon corn chowder from the dining hall on particularly cold days at my college in upstate New York.
Now, I find particular comfort in my dad’s Puerto Rican sancocho, a dish he dubs the “best hangover cure.” It’s made with plantains, batata, yuca, and other vegetables and roots we have to search long and hard for in our little New Jersey suburb. And while my soup obsession is specific to my favorites, I’m not the only person who considers fall the unofficial soup season.
As we head into autumn, people want to eat (and cook!) soup more than in other months: Google Trends shows a spike in search for soup recipes starting in September, just ahead of the autumnal equinox. Check out hashtags like #soupseason (34.1 M views) and #souptok (29.4 M views) on TikTok and you’ll understand the hype reaches far and wide. Videos show both professional chefs and home cooks sharing their favorite recipes, plus content like packaged ramen upgrades and rotisserie chicken soup hacks.
Of course, soup is simple—just a bunch of chopped-up ingredients and your broth of choice thrown into a pot to steep and boil. It’s this easy-to-follow formula that makes soup ideal for rookie cooks, and a staple dish in so many different countries and communities. Soup can also be altered to fit so many diets—gluten-free noodles, non-dairy creams, plant-based proteins—which makes it a standard meal across the world. Soups like lentil, Italian wedding, mofongo, pozole, and phở have wide-ranging cultural significance even when their flavors and fillings are so different.
Warm liquid is the one identifying factor of soup, so it’s really no surprise people turn to soup in the colder months to feel a sense of comfort. Not only can the hot base be soothing to the throat and sinuses when sick, but a lot of the ingredients typically used in soup have immune-boosting effects, according to Toby Amidor, a registered dietician and author of The Family Immunity Cookbook. “Many soup stocks are made from bones of chicken, beef, or fish which are cooked for a few hours. This gives enough time for minerals like zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium to transfer into the liquid stock,” she said. “Add in veggies and you’ve got even more nutrients in the soup.”
The ease of cooking soup, whether microwaving it from a can or starting from scratch and throwing your ingredients into a slow cooker, make it an easy lunch or dinner to whip up, no matter your lifestyle. Just set it and forget it! You can even get boxes delivered to your doorstep in bulk if you’d prefer someone else do the work.
When cooking in bulk, soups have a pretty decent survival rate in the freezer, which makes them a good bang for your buck as well. Per Toby: “Soups have gained hype because you can make it into a full meal or pair it with a simple sandwich or salad (depending on what you put in it), and they’re perfect for meal prepping and for making a double batch and freezing for a busy work week.”
Take all these factors as evidence that my borderline obsession with eating soup for lunch and dinner is valid. Perhaps it’s even a healthy habit or, at the very least, a cost-effective way to keep warm in the cold months. Consider this my love letter to soup in all of its forms: thick chowders, tofu-packed misos, and the canned stuff you at any grocery store. To all the soups I’ve loved before, thank you for enveloping me in your warm broth, softened vegetables, and hearty proteins. And to all the soups I’ve yet to meet, I seriously can’t wait to post a picture of you on Instagram.
Source: Read Full Article