Vegetable soup

Making the first impression of a meal



Using soup as the first impression of a meal

The first impression of a meal is often a soup or salad. The quality of this introductory item may serve as an indication of what is to follow. Starting the meal with an excellent soup or salad is equivalent to putting your best foot forward. It is important to begin a meal with flavor and distinction, rather than place the entire burden of carrying the meal on the main course. The soup or salad serves as the curtain-raiser, and can help introduce the meal in a colorful, entertaining manner.

The versatility of soups and salads allows them to be served not only before a meal, but also during or after, or even as a meal itself. Countless combinations are possible, and this probably led to soups being some of the first meals ever prepared in a pot over an open fire.

Asian SoupSoups

In 16th century France, specialized shops were set up among the ordinary trade shops to serve soup to the workers. A Parisian soup vendor had a Latin inscription above his door that read, “Come to me all of you whose stomachs cry out and I will restore you”. The “restorative” services of these soup shops eventually led to them being called “restaurants,” and our English word used for the evening meal, “supper,” is derived from “soup”.

The enormous assortment of soups now available ranges from light soups that serve as appetizers to very heavy soups that can be offered as a main dish. Most soups are served hot, but there are exceptions, the most famous one being vichyssoise (vee-shee-swahz). This soup was invented in 1917 by Louis Diat, chef of the Ritz Carlton in New York, who named it after his native town in France. Its legendary status comes from a story in which King Louis XIV of France, suspicious that people were trying to poison him, ordered that all his food be sampled by an official taster. The king’s taster felt the need for his own taster, who, in turn, also had a taster, and by the time this “hot” creamed leek and potato soup got to the king, it was cold, and it has been eaten that way ever since.

Whatever the temperature, all soups are based on stock. Other ingredients are usually added to the stock, lending each kind of soup its own name and unique characteristics.