“Beautiful soup, so rich and green

Waiting in a hot tureen!

Who for such danties 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!” –Lewis Carroll

My grandmother’s most frequently cooked homemade soup was a Dutch clear chicken broth

laced with tiny dumplings called “Rivels”

which  we pronounced “riv-a-lees”

and thought were very good

with a chunk of hot freshly made salt bread.

In recent years I began wondering what Grandma had done with the rest of the chicken, and I was admonished by Aunt Annie once when I put all of the deboned 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 asnd noodles added to the broth. That’s how we ate the soup. After soup, we had potatoes and carrots while my father an 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 & barley

Chinese chicken soup

Cincinnati Chili

Beef Stew

Mexican Tortilla Soup

French Onion Soup

Turkey & Rice (when I had a turkey carcass)

Tomato Bisque and Clam chowder

soups so thick

you can stand a spoon in the pot

and it wont 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, freezer or 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 2009/updated June 6, 2018


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