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February 27, 2008

Soup for Breakfast; Breakfast for Soup


Here is a prejudice that is worth sending to its grave: Soup is eaten starting at midday.


It is worth pointing out that this isn’t just a prejudice, but an easily provable falsehood. It could be argued that soup is as popular a breakfast food as it is when eaten at lunch or dinner. One need only point to the parallels between soup and cold cereal. Here, the construction of the meal – invariably inside a bowl – is similar.


You have nuggets of food – flakes of bran or corn, sometimes heavily sweetened and sometimes accompanied by raisins – floating in a broth of milk. How can someone look at a bowl of cold cereal and a bowl of chicken noodle soup and not believe that they were born from the same mother? How can someone look at a bowl of hot oatmeal and a bowl of pureed bean soup and not say the same thing?


The answer is that it is impossible, and the question is how to build a proper soup from other ingredients.


We start with scrambled eggs, diced red pepper and onion, ground pork sausage and shredded potatoes. Each of these should be cooked in their own proper, breakfast-like manner. The bulk sausage should be browned as though it was ground beef, and the eggs should be properly scrambled and set over heat. The onions, pepper and shredded potato should be small enough that they will cook quickly when added to simmering broth.


What remains for us is the most important component of soup, which is the broth. Start with a standard chicken broth, and perhaps the reason for this becomes clear. You have just prevented the asking of a difficult question for early in the morning – which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is that it doesn’t matter because both parties are equally represented.


Heat the broth until it is simmering and add dried parsley. This, and salt and pepper near the end will be the sole seasoning added. Why? Because it is early, and it’s well-known fact that herbs don’t do mornings. In fact, it is this that has led to the wide misunderstanding that soup is not a breakfast food (once again, the bowl of cold cereal is stark evidence of falsehood).


Once simmering, slowly stir in a handful or two of shredded cheese. A Monterey jack or mild cheddar works best here . . . once again because morning is a time to tread lightly.


Use little enough cheese so that the broth takes on a decidedly cheesy undercurrent. At all costs should you avoid using so much cheese what you have changes from soup to “stuff in melted cheese.”


Once proper consistency has been attained, add your other ingredients. Allow to simmer until the onion, pepper and potato have softened and released their respective flavors into the soup. Once this has been accomplished, add salt and ground pepper to taste and spoon into bowls.


Accompany with, what else, buttered toast and a pot of coffee.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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