DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Oct 17 2012

Soup of the evening

by Dea Anne M

Beautiful soup so rich so green,

Waiting in a hot tureen

Who for such dainties would not stoop?

Soup of the evening, Beautiful Soup!

Soup of the evening, Beautiful Soup!

– from Lewis Carroll

The Mock Turtle recites the poem quoted above in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. John Tenniel’s classic illustration reveal a very odd creature who has the shell and front flippers of a sea turtle and the feet, head, and tail of a calf. The Mock Turtle baffled me as a very young child but its absurd appearance becomes obvious once you understand that Carroll was spinning a visual joke on the typical British Victorian’s extreme fondness for soup made from the meat of the sea turtle. Almost as popular as that concoction was a much cheaper, and more readily available, version made from the “lesser used” parts of a calf. The Mock Turtle is described as a melancholy creature and the speculation among the other characters is that this is so because he used to be a “real” turtle. My opinion is that he may feel gloomy about his ultimate fate. When the Red Queen asks Alice if she has seen the Mock Turtle yet, Alice says that she doesn’t know what a Mock Turtle is. The Queen replies: “It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from.”

I’ve never tasted turtle soup or its mock counterpart and, as Alice might say, shouldn’t hope to. I do like soup though, both cooking it and eating it, especially this time of year. Once the weather turns cool, there’s just something about a hot bowl of soup that makes me feel secure and comforted, especially if it’s wet outside as well. Recently, a co-worker who was in need of some comfort asked me to give her a few soup recipes. “Easy ones,” she said. I suspect that by “easy” she means “quick” and, for me at least, soup-making is a puttering sort of activity—enjoyable but hardly speedy. I hope that I can encourage her to take her time and sink into the process. In any case, I’m going to pass on two of my favorite recipes—Leek Potato Soup and Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage. Both take time but reward the effort many times over.

Would you like to explore the pleasures of soup-making? Check out these resources from DCPL.

The Daily Soup Cookbook by Leslie Kaul showcases recipes from the Manhattan restaurant (now closed) by the same name. Offerings include Peking Duck Soup and Jamaican Pumpkin. There are even ideas for leftovers.

The Soup Peddler’s Slow & Difficult Soups: recipes and reveries by David Ansel presents such delights as Alaskan Salmon Chowder and Smoked Tomato Bisque. In 2002 Ansel, a former computer programmer, started vending soup to his grateful customers out of a cooler strapped to his bicycle. Full of stories about the often eccentric residents of Austin TX, this promises to be as fun a read as it is a useful cookbook.

My mind often turns to thoughts of soup on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and Sunday Soup: a year’s worth of mouth-watering, easy-to-make recipes by Betty Rosbottom looks capable of delivering plenty of inspiration. Recipes like Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream and Gulf Coast Shrimp Gumbo look perfect for this time of year and the beautiful photographs make me want to want to get to the farmer’s market as soon as possible (on the way to my kitchen, of course).

Finally, I have to mention a charming book about sharing and friendship. Not a cookbook, it is, nonetheless, well worth seeking out and has my favorite title of all the books that I mention here. It is The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup by Terry Farrish.

What’s your favorite soup? Do you like quick recipes or would you rather take your time?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy L October 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Great post, Dea Anne. I really loved your first paragraph about the Mock Turtle.

Ardene October 17, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Ummm. . . soup & muffins! One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is of a butternut squash soup flavored with garlic, some chicken broth, and a dollop of sour cream with jalepeno peppers.

And then there is the kale & sausage soup I make in the fall. Makes me want to run straight to the kitchen!

Veronica W October 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Soup, glorious soup! I love soups, the heartier the better. Actually I don’t wait until winter but can eat it in the summer as well. I check out the soup in every restaurant I visit. Chicken corn chowder is one of my favorites, as is split pea with ham.

Leigh P. October 17, 2012 at 3:46 PM

I love kale. Is there a link to that recipe, Ardene?

Joseph M October 18, 2012 at 9:17 AM

I’m craving soup now!

Greg October 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Aren’t John Tenniel’s illustrations just the best?!?!

Dea Anne M October 24, 2012 at 11:22 AM

I agree Greg. Tenniel’s illustrations have always been a huge part of what makes the Alice books so wonderful to me. Other illustrators just can’t compare…in my opinion.

Effie C. October 25, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Dea Anne,

You bring back memories of my brother’s wedding. It was a destination wedding in Jamaica. I had the opportunity to enjoy Jamaican pumpkin soup. It was delicious. I will definitely check out the recipe in the Daily Soup Cookbook. Thanks!


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