image of hearts chicken soup in a bowl
It’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers [Ed. sister’s note: Gosh, remember when the internet was fun?] and you know what that means right? SOUP. Let’s bicker about the best liquid food, go!
The best soup is whatever springs to life from the chaos theory in the produce drawer inside your refrigerator. Cream of asparagus. Ran-out-of-cream-will-milk-and-arrowroot-starch-do? of broccoli. Carrot ginger. Is that the red or the white? YES.
What I’m saying is, I have low standards; maybe keep reading for other hot takes on hot liquid nutrition.
As the temperature cools and leaves part ways with their branches, there is one soup I’m reaching for: broccoli cheese. Sure, this bowl of cheesy goodness ranks among the most basic of the basic of soup, but maybe that’s why it’s so appealing. When I am in need of comfort, I am not turning to the exotic and elaborate. No, no, no this bland girl is choosing the food that eased her soul, the one thing that made vegetables palatable for her as a child: broccoli smothered in liquified cheddar cheese. Serve it to me in a bread bowl and you will forever have a place in this carb-loving heart.
I don’t care if you get your ramen from a plastic wrapped package, ordered it from down the street, or made your own from scratch. The best part of this Japanese delicacy is the versatility. Broth flavoring is irrelevant: pork tonkatsu, creamy chicken garlic, spicy miso, what have you. What makes ramen the MVP of soups are the endless possibilities you can add in to personalize it. First, you gotta dump a raw egg into the boiling broth for a yummy surprise ready to chew when it’s done. Or, what leftover proteins do you have? Roasted chicken, burger, spicy sausage, any meat will do. The vegetable additions are endless, all to your creative liking. Carrots, broccoli, string beans, peas, radishes, onions. Mm mmm fricken mm. Ramen is as good as wearing a hoodie and listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and you know I’m right.
New England Clam Chowder
Is that the red or white?
IT’S THE WHITE.
New England Clam Chowder, is the best password and is the best soup, if your tum-tum is ready for it. But it also gets a major assist from a perfect sourdough bread bowl. You couldn’t name a better soup combo.
Is that a challenge? Come at me! I got that minestrone and cheesy garlic bread. You fools can keep all the cream soups. I’ll be over here with my hearty-ass minestrone, getting all the minerals and nutrients from some toasty warm vegetables. Roll call!
Green beans? IN HERE.
Carrots? IN HERE.
Onions? IN HERE.
Celery? IN HERE.
Beans? IN HERE.
Tomatoes? IN HERE.
And don’t tell me… we even got Potatoes? YES, MA’AM. IN HERE.
I don’t do it because it’s the “heart healthy choice,” indicated with some little leafy green icon on the menu at your favorite diner or the chain restaurant you’re embarrassed to be in because you’re a hipster… I do it because minestrone is the true God of Soups, the only one that keeps you full for more than 30 minutes.
I am not here to tell you that Kelaine’s minestrone is not the God of Soups. It is damn good soup. In fact I am asking her to make an extra gallon and send it to me. But I am going to tell you I can improve it. Take that tasty pot of vegetables and start warming it back up. Then take a half dozen steamed crabs. Yes with Old Bay. Pull off the claws and toss them in. Clean out the back fin meat and add that to the bowl. Hell yes you then throw the shell in to add flavor while it cooks. Sorry to say this but if you don’t want some of this crab soup, No Soup for You.
I love soup. Don’t get me wrong.
But imagine how GOBSMACKED I was when soup turned out to just be water thrown into a pot with other stuff. When I got my first soup recipe from HelloFresh, they gave me ONE packet of stock—and were like “throw in 4 cups of water.” THAT’S IT?! And it will still be utterly warm, delicious and comforting?!
I just always assumed it was one of life’s greatest culinary challenges—making a really good soup.
If it is that simple, why do chefs totally fuck it up on Top Chef and get called fuckin’ donkeys by Gordon Ramsay himself?! It’s literally just food tea.
And I am only interested in soup if it comes with three different pieces of Panera baguette for dipping. Who needs a spoon?
Missing the tomatoes of summer? NO WORRIES! Here’s a bowl of hot crushed tomatoes blended with butter, onion, garlic, stock, parmesan, maybe even a bit of cream. An easily stomached consistency, a tangy taste. Top it with some shreds of basil, more parmesan.
But wait… there can be more!
Put your spoon down. Pick up that sandwich. That grilled cheese. Don’t be afraid. This is what it wants—the dip of a lifetime. Crunchy bread, melty cheese and now: TOMATO!
Is there anything that hits harder?
Okay, no one has to get hurt, but I need an answer: where is it? Yes, YOU, Panera Bread! What did you do with all the POTATO SOUP? PO-TAY-TO? One day I’m living my germy life ordering baked potato soup on any given Tuesday/Thursday (or was it Monday/Wednesday?) I please and the next I’m masked up and looking at a bare bones menu for take-out. Many things returned to us years into Covid (like Taco Bell breakfast–whoo!) but my beloved baked potato soup is still missing in action. Scalding hot or even lukewarm, it’s a creamy dream of carb bliss with the occasional clump of bacon. Baked potato soup lit up every room she walked into… which, according to every other episode of Dateline, means she was meant to leave us too soon.
Chicken Soup for the soul. Because my soul needs it.
It is not fall until I have my first bowl of broccoli cheddar. The chunkier, the better.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
So delicious and easy:
(1) Rotisserie chicken (not pronounced “Ross-it-teer-eee”…like I’ve pronounced it for the past only God knows how long? Long enough to know better. Long enough where people have been kind enough to tell me the correct pronunciation. Long enough, where you remember at the end of Goonies, Mikey asks how long had the gang been watching him talk to a dead pirate? And Brand goes, “Long enough Mikey… long enough.” That’s my inner monologue; only, my inner-Brand has heard enough, and doesn’t stick around, he walks away with the rest of the Goonies, leaving me behind in the cave, forgetting about the gold, or saving the neighborhood, or being heroes… and thus, the Goondocks get demolished, and everybody has to move to some other town, school, and at some point look up at some other sky…anyway, just Google, “Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe”… its more trustworthy.
“I want to see the band.” Doherty cringed inside, then smiled. “You want to see the band? Why?” “Because I’m the head of the oldest record label in the world, that’s why! And because I asked, Doherty. Don’t ask why just get them in here!” Doherty looked up at Robel and cringed again, took a deep breath and just sighed. “What’s wrong with you, Doherty? You’re sighing? You look like a disappointed balloon, please tell me why Doherty, I can’t have MY band in MY office!”
Doherty remembered his task; the band had sent him in to see Robel, to reject all of the record labels suggested album titles, but mainly to reassert the band’s importance to the record label.
“Well. As their Manager, I can certainly relay your message to the band. But may I speak frankly sir?”
Doherty stood up and turned away.
“You may speak, but frankly is some English shit I don’t quite care for; the only Franks I know are Schmucks.”
“The thing is, Mr. Robel, Primordial Soup is the name of the album and there is fucking nothing that you can do about it, nothing you can say or do that can change that,” Doherty cringed inside again.
“Ok Doherty, I guess you believe enough in this shit. You’re dismissed.”
Robel stood, buried his hands in his pockets and hit the square button that called reception on his telephone.
“Yes, Mr Robel?”
“Who’s my three o’clock?”
“The Red Blackbirds.”
“Get my car. Tell them to go home.”