There’s not too much explanation required to understand why the month of January is National Soup Month. But before I give you some of the soup recipes that various local cooks have sent to me, I thought I would present some important “soup dates,” so you can share this trivia with others.

Let’s start with 20,000 BC. Historians say that soup existed as far back as that date: hot rocks and clay vessels were used to cook soups at the time. Fast-forward to 1765 when the first Parisian soup shop opened, selling soup as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1869, Joseph Campbell, a wholesale fruit and vegetable vendor, joined forces with Abraham Anderson, a commercial canner and packer, to form the Anderson & Campbell firm, which would one day become the Campbell Soup Company.

In 1894, Arthur Dorrance succeeded Joseph Campbell, who retired. One year later, the first jar of ready-to-eat soup was introduced. Beefsteak Tomato was made from New Jersey Beefsteak tomatoes, and became the Campbell’s signature produce for over 25 years. In 1897, condensed soup was invented by John Dorrance, a chemist who was Arthur’s nephew—and that led to smaller packaging: cans!

One year later, the first red and white soup can label debuted, after a company executive attended the annual Cornell-Penn football game and was impressed by Cornell’s spiffy new red and white uniforms. In 1900, the company won a bronze medal for product excellence at the Paris Exposition; that medallion is still featured on the label. In 1914, Dr. Dorrance, now known as the inventor of condensed soup, became president of the company and led it until his death in 1930.

In 1963, the artist Andy Warhol confessed to drinking Campbell’s soup for lunch for 20 years—and that’s why he painted the famous Campbell soup cans. There is a lot more information available (remember the Campbell Kids and the “m’m good!” radio jingle?), including a variety of big business acquisitions, but I think these milestones will suffice for now.

Onto our very own “stay warm, m’m good” recipes from local home chefs. Starting with my friends and neighbors in Waquoit, Ron Wing sent me instructions for his corn chowder, and his partner, Linda Despres, included her mother’s recipe for cabbage beef soup.

Ron’s Corn Chowder With Salmon

3 cans creamed corn

1 can whole kernel corn

1 onion chopped

1 to 2 cloves crushed garlic

2 tbsp oil

4-5 medium potatoes, cubed

1 cup milk

Half a bay leaf

Parsley

Half a pound smoked red salmon, flaked

In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic in a little oil. In a separate pot, cook potatoes until slightly firm; reserve 2 cups potato water. When onion is translucent, add potatoes, milk and bay leaf, along with 1 cup potato water; bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Add corn and mix well; if more liquid is needed, add more potato water. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste; stir in salmon and heat through before serving hot.

Linda’s Mom’s C abbage Beef Soup

1 lb ground beef or Italian sausage (casing removed and crumbled)

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 46-oz can tomato juice

1 lb cored and chopped green cabbage

4 cups water

1 small can tomato paste

3 large carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 beef bouillon cubes

In a large saucepan, brown meat, garlic and onion; drain well. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes; add more water if soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Note: rice or beans can be added… add one-half cup raw rice during the last 45 minutes of cooking, or add 1 cup cooked rice or a can of kidney or black beans that have been drained and rinsed at the end of cooking time.

Martha Tarafa, another one of our dedicated volunteers at Highfield Hall, said she likes to make the following soup when she is in Vermont, skiing, because “it calls for just a few ingredients and it is quick and hearty.” She adapted it from Cooking Light magazine, and suggests using a chicken sausage such as D’Artagnan or Applegate, with diced apples to add a little sweetness to the finished dish.

Black Bean Tomato Soup With Lime Cream

2 chicken sausages, or your favorite sausage

½ cup chopped onion

¼ cup chopped celery

I tsp cumin, divided

½ tsp chipotle chili powder

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ tsp black pepper

1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 14.5-oz. can no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 14-oz. can less-sodium fat-free chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

1 tsp grated lemon rind

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

optional garnish: one sliced or crumbled hard-boiled egg

Cook sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat; remove, leaving drippings in the pan; set the meat aside. Add onion and celery to pan and cook 5 minutes or until celery is tender; stir in ¾ tsp cumin, all the chili powder, and garlic and cook one minute. Stir in reserved sausage, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Place half of mixture in a blender or place half the mixture in a bowl and use an immersion blender; blend until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture, if you want a smooth soup. (I prefer to only blend one half to three quarters of the soup and keep some of the beans and sausage pieces whole.) Combine sour cream, remaining ¼ tsp cumin, lime rind, and lime juice in a small bowl; drizzle this garnish over each soup bowl when serving.

Julie Berkman has just started volunteering in the culinary program at Highfield. She lives in Woods Hole most of the year, but is currently in Norway, where, she says “Hi from blizzarding Tromsø where the roads are plowed and the airplanes take off on schedule,” a rather different scenario than here in our country! She sent me one of her favorite soups, an interesting combination of winter squash, mushrooms and orange juice, which she adapted from “The Moosewood Cookbook.”

She added that she prefers “to peel the squash and boil it on the stove, then add the broth to the orange juice concentrate.” She also had some advice “for the gardeners and cooks who appreciate fresh greens; this is also a great time to start some microgreens—I bought seed starters at Mahoney’s, then made my own and found good details in Johnny’s Seed Catalogue.” As you will see from the photographs, these add an especially nice touch to the finished dish.

Julie’s Curried Squash, Mushroom And Orange Soup

2 medium-sized acorn or butternut squash (about 4 pounds)

A little oil for the baking tray

3½ cups orange juice

2 tbsp butter

1 cup minced onion

2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp each: ground coriander and cinnamon

2 tsp dry mustard

1 tbsp minced garlic

½ lb mushrooms, sliced

Cayenne to taste

Fresh lemon juice to taste

Yogurt and microgreens for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F; split the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and place face-down on a lightly oiled baking tray. Bake until very soft (30 to 40 minutes). Cool, then scoop out the insides, discarding any remaining seeds. Measure out 3 cups of squash, place it in a food processor or blender with one and a half cups of the orange juice, and purée until smooth. (You may need to do this in batches.) Transfer to a soup pot, and stir in the remaining orange juice; melt the butter in a skillet, and add the onion, ginger, salt, and spices. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is very soft (about 8 minutes). Add a few tablespoons of water, if necessary, to prevent the spices from sticking. Add the garlic and mushrooms, cover, and cook about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Add the sauté mixture to the squash mixture, scraping the skillet well to salvage all the little tidbits of flavor; add cayenne and lemon juice to taste. Serve hot, topped with a little yogurt and some microgreens, if you have them.

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