Digital History - Histoire Numérique

Why Soup?

Soup was a very basic but very special meal in North America. Never being extremely popular in England, the need for an easy way to create a meal became very important as settlers did not have permanent kitchens to create large meals. Though most soups took a long amount of time to make, they could be made in makeshift base camps and in makeshift ways. Soup recipes did not become very popular until the late 19th century, as even in early cookbooks, soup recipes were limited, with Rational Cookery only having two soup recipes out of hundreds.

While settlers travelled across North America, they sometimes did not have time to make soup multiple times, if they needed to keep moving. Portable soup rose in popularity during this transient time and was perfected in the army. The portable soup consisted of pre-prepared vegetables and meat parts as well as concentrated broths, which could be combined with water for a quick meal. Think of it as a healthier version of Mr. Noodles. Portable soup is much like the early version of canned soup, as the portable soup was meant to be easy to carry but used relatively quickly. 

Another popular era of soup was the soup kitchen. The soup kitchen reached its height around the end of this collection, in the 1930s. During the economic struggle of the Great Depression, soup kitchens made this easy food to feed many hungry folks. Using a mix of portable and perishable strategies, soup kitchens aimed to make as much product as possible.

Today, soup is mostly associated with the brand Campbell's, which came to Canada in the 1930s and has stayed the most popular brand of canned soup ever since. Though most people eat chicken noodle by the can and call it a day, this collection highlights how diverse soup recipes once were, and still are if you look beyond the soup aisle at the grocery store. 

Why Soup?