When Dee, Blanca, and I did our Soup Spice Bags podcast, it cemented who we were as a trio. It was about one food, soup, which unraveled how this basic staple was varied. For Blanca, her soup was a gazpacho. (Cold soup makes Dee shiver.) Dee shared memories of her father making blended packet soups. For me, my place of warmth was from American tins. (Processed soup makes Blanca tremble with rage.) Many people who think “soup” imagine a mother or grandmother stirring a pot on the stove; none of us have had this in our lives.
This opened up a conversation about how we could use soup to explore differences in the world. We asked the international people in the Irish community to contribute their soups, and within those recipes, portray a sliver of their home and their character. With these marvelous individuals, we wrote Soup which was published by Kristin Jensen and Blasta Books.
A personal anecdote: recently, I arrived in Philadelphia in December and it was frozen. I walked with a hat pulled tightly over my ears while my speech turned into smoke. My stepfather had passed away the last Christmas Day. My aunt had cancer. My cousin wanted to take me to a fancy restaurant, but I requested canned Progresso soup instead. It was the night before Christmas Eve and I nuzzled in my cousin’s couch with a bowl of Italian wedding, crumbling oyster crackers. My eyes were beaded with tears because I was home at last.
We believe that soup is a place of comfort, and yet the notion of soup is individual to heritage and history. It is, for those of us who are immigrants, our homesick food. It is what we crave when we are under the weather. It is what we desire when we want a hug from a parent, or miss an important ceremony. How does one replicate that in a bowl?
Tom Jued. Efo Riro. Sopa de Tortilla. Soup is not just liquid. It is about where you belong and what makes you feel safe. Each soup story will be unique from another person’s. With the soups in our book, we aim to give a taste of people’s narratives and hope that you, our readers, will garner some of its warmth.
Our book has been featured in the Irish Independent and the Sunday Times Ireland.