January 19, 2013

National Soup Swap Day

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting." - Abraham Maslow

It's National Soup Swap Day!
(Please note: this is a floating food holiday. It occurs on the third Saturday of January each year.)

Soup is considered one of the first foods ever made; it was definitely one of the first foods my sister and I ever made when playing outside (shh! Don’t tell our guests, but the pine needles we used in our soups were the same pine needles we used in both our beds and our wall dividers). France first used the word “restaurant” (which roughly means "to restore something") in the 1500’s to explain the supposedly medicinal soups that street vendors sold. The modern use of the word “restaurant” first applied a couple centuries later when an actual soup store was opened. Fast forward, and condensed soup was first created in 1897 by Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist who worked with the Campbell Soup Company.

And now you’re all the wiser, foodies.

It’s amazing how far soup has come. Nowadays you can find everything on the shelves from basic vegetable stocks to "loaded baked potato" flavored stews. And while the ways to celebrate National Soup Swap Day are nearly limitless, I really wanted to pay homage to my mom. When she was at summer camp as a kid, each girl had to bring a can of soup with no label on it. One day during the week their Troop Leader would tell them it was Girl Scout Soup Day. For lunch they would eat whatever all the cans became when thrown together in a single pot. “It was so disgusting, and yet it could've been so much worse,” my mom said. “For some strange reason (I think a smart Troop Leader may have dumped 'em), there was never any cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup mixed in with all the chicken noodle, chicken rice, chicken stars, tomato, vegetable, beef and noodles, etc.”

Years (and years) later, her brother thought it would be a great idea if they removed all the labels from their canned goods at home. For a week after they never knew what they were having as a side with dinner. “We thought it was hilarious - and we were older, too, which made it funnier! – but, my mother was mortified and my father was not too happy. We were sternly told the phrase we always heard from my father when we did something foolish: ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ But because we were older we just kept laughing! In hindsight I'm glad my mother only shopped for a week at a time because the episode could've lasted so much longer!”

So tonight, I stocked my cabinet with label-less cans and plucked one at random to swap with a friend I asked to do the same. Y'know, it really is kind of like playing Russian roulette with your meal!

(His was a low-sodium lentil, mine was a vegan split pea ... I guess it's really not that dangerous of a game when you're a vegetarian, but it still has some element of thrill... right?)

Happy National Soup Swap Day!