Yorkshire's wet and cold weather can only mean one thing - it's time for soup: Ian McMillan
There’s an autumn mist hanging around the street corners of the morning. A rook calls from the trees over the fence at the back of the garden like rooks called in Shakespeare’s ‘rooky wood’ in Macbeth. There’s a slight breeze that agitates a few leaves from the branches to join the leaf-crowds on the floor.
My wife and I have been married for so long that we can each tell what the other one is thinking. And we’re both thinking a single four-letter word. And the word, of course, is soup. I’ll write it again just for the joy of it: soup.
There’s a slight breeze that agitates a few leaves from the branches to join the leaf-crowds on the floor. My wife and I have been married for so long that we can each tell what the other one is thinking. And we’re both thinking a single four-letter word. And the word, of course, is soup. I’ll write it again just for the joy of it: soup.
‘Feels like soup weather’ my wife says, and I say ‘I was just about to say the same’ and she says ‘I know you were’ and a rook calls again. It seems to be laughing at us but I don’t know what it’s got to laugh about because, being a rook, it’ll never have tasted soup.
Autumn is the season of soup, of course, but to be honest I could enjoy soup at any time of year. On the hottest day of summer when I’m licking an ice-cream, there’s a secret (and now not so secret) part of me that really craves a bowl of soup.
Sometimes we make our own soup from all sorts of things but there are times for me when just a tin of cream of tomato soup will do the trick.
That has to be my favourite soup, like a sunset of flavour, a sunrise of taste. I remember a time, not too long ago, when soup was considered a bit boring, a bit past its slurp-by date and if you went out to eat and had soup as a starter you were thought of as old-fashioned, as living your life in the black-and-white slow lane.
You’d be encouraged to try other starters involving jus and seared kumquats and the squeezed heart of a turbot’s dreams (I made that last one up, but you know the kind of thing I mean) but now I’m pleased to say that the pendulum has swung the other way and soup in trendy again, with lots of features in magazines and on cookery shows on TV singing the praises of soup.
Well, I’ve always been faithful to soup and never strayed towards a shard of melon in a shot glass, so go and dip your bread in that, celebrity chefs!
As a soup evangelist and an avid reader, I can categorically state that most books would be improved immensely by the addition of soup, and I don’t mean soup spilled on the pages. Rather than a martini, James Bond should have Oxtail, shaken not stirred.
In A Kestrel For A Knave by Barry Hines, Billy Casper could keep his kestrel in an old soup tin, and rather than glugging beer his brother Jud could enjoy nothing better than some Scotch Broth with a Mother’s Pride crust dipped in; it would certainly have cooled his temper and the kestrel may have escaped its ultimate fate. Imagine if Wordworth had wandered lonely as a cloud and come across, not a host of golden daffodils but a stack of tins of thick pea and ham.
The poem would have been improved immeasurably, I think you’ll agree.
So let me say this: have your soup with pride. It’s the food of the gods. It’s the best. Feels like soup weather, don’t you think? I reckon it does. Where’s that tin opener? Where’s that bowl? Where’s that spoon?