Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Importance of Soup

I can't overstate this.

Soup is important.

Have you ever lowered your face over a bowl of perfect soup?  The steam floats off the top and before you even take a bite you can breathe its wholeness into yourself. Every time I have a bowl of soup I do this, and I am immediately a child again.

When I was a small human strep throat was my constant, uninvited companion. My body would ache from fever - my throat would burn, and my parents would take me to the doctor to once again have a giant cotton swab jammed down my throat. It was horrible. I’d gag and cry and cough. It happened every year. Sometimes it happened twice a year, and my only refuge… my only joy during those horrible days was soup.

It is strange how good something can be when it is the only good thing. Growing up, when I was sick, soup was my thing. My mom would pull out a can of Campbell’s Condensed Chicken and Stars and heat it up. My throat would be so sore that instead of immediately eating it I would just hold my head above the bowl and breathe the salty bullion flavored steam into my lungs. In that moment I would feel them open up, and almost feel normal again. Antibiotics were what cured me, but soup is what got me through.

Soup is important.

My sister and I didn’t get along very well growing up. She was five years younger than me, and we had very little in common. That said, we both loved snow. When I was in sixth grade and she was in first the sky dropped more snow in our neighborhood than I had ever seen, or have ever seen since. They canceled school for two days and we spent both of them together digging tunnels and building forts in our backyard. I don’t think I impressed my sister much growing up. I was that annoying older brother who wouldn’t let her play my video games. But for those two days, I was the coolest guy she knew. I was a creator.

We didn’t build snowmen. We built snow worlds.

Each day when our snowsuits had soaked through and our fingers were numb, we came inside and I made the only thing I knew how to make for both of us for lunch. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup. I clearly remember her telling me it was the greatest thing she had ever eaten, and it was definitely among my proudest moments.

Soup is important.

Not long after Stevie and I moved in together, I suggested soup for dinner. She scoffed.

“Soup is not dinner.”

I may have flinched. What? How? Why? Soup is dinner. Soup is a PERFECT dinner.

“No, Soup is something you get in a cup before dinner.” She replied.

“Challenge accepted.”

The next few months and years were filled with my subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to prove that soup, by itself could be a meal. I bought the heartier, chunkier soups from Campbell’s. I stocked the cupboard with those cool single serving microwavable lunch soups. I made my own soups from scratch: potato and ham, chicken noodle, green chile chicken. Every time, she would say “These are really good, but I feel like I need more.”

Then a crappy miracle happened. Guess who got strep? And guess who needed me to take care of them? And guess who got chicken noodle soup. And guess whose face I watched transform as she pulled its smell into her lungs.

After that day, she understood.

Soup is a meal.

Soup is important.

My kids never needed to be convinced. Ever since they could work a spoon, soup has been what they asked for. The soup aisle is their favorite one at the store. They like Ninja Turtle Soup, and Frozen Soup. They like Stars and Letters. They feed their soup to each other. Well, they try. They’re not THAT good with spoons.

The thing they (and I) love about soup is that it is something simple enough to make together. Once a can of soup is opened it is as simple as grabbing a stepping stool and letting my daughter pour it into the pot. Then we add the can of water and wait.

Once the soup is done Stevie and I sit at the table with our kids. Each one gets an ice cube in the bowl to help it cool down. Then the four of us lower our heads and breathe it in. When Stevie and I try our first bites we both exclaim how amazing it is and what a good job Duchess did cooking it, and regardless of how many times we say it, her little face beams with pride.

I see myself in that face. Finding joy from simple, uncomplicated things is what gets us through the tougher times in life. Sure, it might just be a can of condensed soup and a can of water, but to me it is more than that. It is something that has always been there for me. And, you know the best part? Soup isn’t just my thing anymore. It is my family’s thing. It’s something we share. It is our favorite… and it is important.  Soup is important.

This is my third post in a series I am writing in a partnership with Campbell’s Soup and their #RealRealLife campaign. January is National Soup Month, but in my opinion every month should be National Soup Month. I've been compensated by Campbell's both in money and in delicious soup that I would have eaten anyway because I love soup. A lot. 

1 comment:

  1. Well I would just like to say that I for one agree wholeheartedly that soup is a perfectly acceptable dinner. So there are at least 2 votes in the "soup for dinner" box.