Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Soup. It’s basic. Though the ingredients change, it’s part of almost every culture, which means almost all of us can conjure a memory of sitting down and sipping or spooning soup to our lips. We can imagine the warmth in our bellies. We can remember someone placing a bowl or a cup in front of us, someone dropping soup off at our door, how we felt taken care of. Or, we can recall how we chopped and seasoned and stirred to care for someone else, which really is just as sweet, if not more so.
Soup binds us to each other in the best possible way. It is a simple preparation that links us to each other’s homes, gardens, histories. The flavours always a story of the soups of our families, our places and our past. A friend of mine recently had a baby, I brought her a pot of my favourite soup. So simple and so necessary. The mother who has recently birthed a baby is tired. Her body is so strong, but somewhat weakened from the sheer force it takes to give and sustain another life. She needs the people around her to show up and listen, to see her, to acknowledge what she is giving is huge and to hold her wherever she is at. The soup a carrier of the message, I am here for you.
Last year I had a cold that I could not shake. Weeks in, I got a text from a friend telling me to look on my front stoop. I opened my door to find soup! I was so grateful I actually cried. I will never forget her soup, the colour of the broth, the flavour, the fact that she made it and went to the trouble of sharing it with me, especially when I was so depleted. It made me think of something I read in a kabbalah book several years ago, and a conversation I’d had with a neighbour several years before that: when we are not at our strongest, the thing that is most helpful is care from someone else. That care, the soup, is a direct energy transfer from the earth (through the ingredients) and from the person giving it to us (through their act of just showing up). That’s what we need when we’re low, an infusion of good energy.
While soup is an embodiment of some of the most profound aspects of life, it is also incredibly mundane. Sometimes it’s the culmination of having ingredients that are about to go to waste and it is a scramble to use them in time. Sometimes it’s you’ve forgotten to grocery shop and need to feed yourself and your family. For some of us, there is no choice, it’s soup to eat or nothing. Soup is the power of simplicity, universality. It is nourishment and connection. May we all have soup.