Soups may be a staple in every restaurant menu around the world, but have you ever wondered how these simple pleasures came about and grew to become our favourite meals?
And more importantly, do you know how the importance of classifying the soups in your menu? It’s time to find out
Who boiled the first soup?
The exact time period that soup was invented remains debatable. However according to archaeologist John Speth, our ancient Neanderthal relatives were likely to have begun boiling meat to render fat from animal bones – resulting in a meat broth that they would have drunk as soup.
This means that soups have probably been around since the time man started cooking meat with fire!
According to historians, while our hunter-gatherer ancestors would make use of every part of an animal they could not eat (such as hides), they didn’t know what to do with the bones. They were too hard to be eaten, but too soft to be made into anything useful like clothes or shelter. As a result, the bones were destroyed with fire.
After some time they realised that it was possible to draw out nutrients from bones by heating them. And after the invention of the pot, they quickly discovered the best way to do so was by tossing animal bones into a pot, adding water and boiling them.
Later, other ingredients – such as vegetables, spices and herbs – were added to vary the taste of these broths. This paved the way for the exciting variety of soups that we enjoy today.
Know your soups
Why is it important to know about the different classifications of soup?
Properly classifying your soups can neaten your menu. This makes it easier for your diners to choose the soup they would like to order; whether they’re in the mood for one that’s light and clear, or a full-flavoured bisque. Also, have your service staff get familiar with these soup classifications, so they can make helpful recommendations.
- Clear soup: A thin, clear stock or broth that is usually served with meat, seafood or vegetables.
- Cream soup: Opaque soups that are thickened by pureeing its ingredients, or with a thickening agent such as roux. The primary flavour in cream soups is the soup’s main ingredient.
- Vegetable soup: As its name implies, vegetable soups are thin, vegetarian-friendly soups that are made with a variety of greens, and are 100% free from meat.
- Puree: Made by simmering vegetables (or starchy ingredients such as potatoes) in stock or water, then pureeing. These soups usually have a coarse texture. Not to be mistaken with cream soups, which are usually thickened with an added starch.
- Veloute: A beautifully velvety textured soup, created with a thickening agent, egg yolks, cream, and other ingredients.
- Bisque: A rich-tasting cream soup that’s made using shellfish (such as lobster), and thickened with roux.
These are some of the primary classifications of soups that you can use as a guide for your menus and service staff. Don’t forget that within each classification there are a whole world of sub-categories like consommé, boullion, broth, etc.
Get to know your soups well so you can make ideal recommendations to diners. They’ll thank you for it, because everyone loves a delectable bowl of hot, nourishing soup.