James Complains About The Complexity Of Soup

Today’s diatribe is, as ever, about something trivial and unimportant that doesn’t really have any relevance to my daily existence. Nonetheless, it did dominate my thoughts for a whole thirty minutes or so earlier this week.

As with many of my ‘adventures’ this began in a supermarket. I was in the canned foods aisle. It’s not an aisle I frequent often, but I was in need of chickpeas for a curry my other half had instructed me to make. That’s kind of how it works at the moment in my marriage. I’m the cook, because I quite like cooking and I’m moderately good at it, but I have a tendency to eat unhealthy food if left to my own devices, so my other half, who is less inclined to spend time in the kitchen, but who is rather more health conscious, tells me what it is I should be making. It’s quite a good arrangement, I’m healthier and she seems to enjoy my creations. The downside is that I seem to have been lumbered with the washing up.  My wife informs me I’m better at that too, and I’m a sucker for a compliment. Or just a sucker full stop.

Anyway I was in the canned foods aisle looking for chickpeas because it’s one scenario where opening a can seems entirely justifiable when compared  to the faff involved in cooking dried chickpeas. You can debate the nutritional benefits of the non-canned variety but in comparison to the hamburgers that I’d be eating out of choice, you’d have to agree that canned chickpeas are quite a bit healthier.

Anyway, there I was, in the canned food aisle, when two people walked past. Later on a third party would appear who would confirm that the original two people were grandmother and grandson. The grandson was fully grown and I’d estimate he was somewhere between sixteen and nineteen years old. And living independently for the first time. And the grandmother (and the third party who later turned up and was apparently his mother) were stocking up his cupboards for him.

And though I only caught a snippet of the conversation, it bothered me for a good half an hour.

This was the snippet:

Grandmother: Do you like soup?

Grandson: Erm…

Grandmother : Because I do worry about your diet boy…

Now I’m not being judgmental about the fact that the grandmother thinks that canned soup is a healthy alternative to whatever the grandson is eating. When I first moved out of my parent’s abode and struck out on my own, I lived on canned goods an awful lot. I lived on them because they were cheap and easy to prepare. I can cook now but eighteen years ago I was a disaster in the kitchen. And I had no money. I lived on canned soup and the like for six months, and aside from being the thinnest (borderline emaciated by my standards) I have ever been in my life, I wasn’t notably unhealthy.

It obviously isn’t the best diet though. Living exclusively on canned goods, even chickpeas, is not recommended by many nutritionists that I’m aware of. But as I say, I’m not judging the grandmother for her belief that canned soup is a healthy alternative to her grandson’s current diet, because she might well be correct.

But I am judging her choice of question. Specifically this question:

“Do you like soup?”


It’s no wonder that grandson couldn’t come up with an answer.

How do you answer that question?

Certainly not with a yes or no answer.

Imagine, if you will, a scenario where I am on trial (obviously for a crime I didn’t commit) and I’m being questioned by the prosecution.

Prosecution: Mr Proclaims, do you like soup?

Me: You know that Proclaims isn’t actually my surname don’t you?

Prosecution: Just answer the question Mr Proclaims. Do you like soup?

Me: Erm…

Prosecution: It’s a simple ‘yes or no’ question Mr Proclaims. Do you like soup?

Me: Well, on balance, I’d probably say yes then.

Prosecution: You do like soup? How interesting… Do you know who else likes soup Mr Proclaims? The murderer! He likes soup. On the night of the murder we know for a fact that the murderer ate a bowl of tomato soup!

Me: How do you know that? That seems like an oddly specific thing for you to know…

Prosecution: It’s not important how we know. But we do know. And now you reveal that you like soup. Are we supposed to believe that this is a coincidence?

Me: Well it seems like a coincidence to me. And anyway I don’t like tomato soup.

Prosecutuion: Preposterous! How can you claim to like soup and then suggest that you don’t like the best flavour of soup there is?

You see the problem? “Do you like soup?” is a rubbish question. Because surely most people like some flavours of soup but very few people would like all flavours of soup. And that’s ignoring the different textures, the fine distinctive lines between soups and broths or even stews. And that’s before we get started on chowders, bisques, consommés and gumbos. It’s a minefield.

So it’s no wonder that the best response the grandson could come up with was an incoherent grunt.

And now he’s probably got a cupboard full of Heinz Chunky Vegetable Soup that he’s never going to eat.

Poor lad.

  42 comments for “James Complains About The Complexity Of Soup

  1. weebluebirdie
    August 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    It’s a fickle thing, the liking of the soup. I love soup, but only if it’s full of chunky veg – I can’t abide blended soup. One of the local lunchtime eateries does a curious thing: no matter the variety of soup, it always contains very large carrot chunks. I eat tomatoes and mushrooms most days, but can’t stand them as soup. The only soup the Kid will eat is my Lentil soup – with it’s secret ingredient – but it has to be blended. I make a damned fine Minestrone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      I’ll only eat blended soup. My other half likes chunky veg, but mistakenly bought me a blender as a birthday gift once and I’ve never looked back. Leek and potato being my soup of choice but I do a mean carrot and coriander too…


      • weebluebirdie
        August 9, 2015 at 10:40 pm

        I agree that carrot soup needs blending, and that’s the only blended one I can do. Love leek and potato – when you’ve got all the rings of leeks still intact and proper chunks of tatties! Oh, and the takeaway place even puts the carrots in this soup; so, so wrong. I reckon they must have some shady deal going with a carrot farmer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 9, 2015 at 10:42 pm

        There’s no place for carrots in leek and potato soup!
        I have my leek and potato blended I’m afraid…


  2. August 9, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Bit weird this one, you have to ask yourself what has his mother been feeding him all this time? I’m knocking on a bit and on a Sunday mum would cook a roast albeit lamb or beef, this would then come back in the week as stew or rissoles, sorry burgers weren’t invented then. Soup was awful home made with chick peas and boiled ham and you had to drink gallons of water with it.
    So yes do you like soup is an odd question. Btw try and get your wife on the drying up or else let the dishes pile up, well maybe not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      I’m still trying to get my head around ‘a time before burgers’. You’ve literally blown my mind!


  3. Pleasant Street
    August 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    I cook and do the washing also. Complaining doesn’t work. Letting them pile up doesn’t work. Not cooking doesn’t work. Someone else cooking- much bigger mess. It is what it is.

    I like almost all soup. Except for borscht. The only vegetables I won’t eat are beets and okra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Can’t say I’ve ever had okra, but I now know to avoid… I eat all vegetables under duress, I don’t need any new nightmares…


      • Pleasant Street
        August 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm

        It seems to be a vegetable that people are not lukewarm about. Love or hate it.

        Good way to get green stuff in you when you hate it is blend it in a smoothie with apples. The sweet apples smooths it out and it’s quite palatable

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Good tip – I have a blender 🙂


      • Pleasant Street
        August 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Apologies if that was motherly, it’s a habit of mine 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

        I need all the motherly advice I can get!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dust and Dog Hair
        August 10, 2015 at 11:24 pm

        Can’t eat okra because I don’t like it’s name (or anything named leek). Additionally , it looks like a vegetable version of a Jellyfish or an alien spacecraft.

        I do like the name, “Mr. Proclaims”…that’s a hoot.

        I also like your other half’s strategy. My other half is my better half, particularly in the culinary department… and we like soup. Most kinds, except for the erm kind.

        Great read, James! Congrats!

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 10, 2015 at 11:26 pm

        Thanks for the comment. I grow increasingly curious about okra, but know that I will dislike it intensely…
        I may well go with Mr Proclaims from now on!


  4. August 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I love mushrooms but can’t stand mushroom soup! Don’t understand it, love mushrooms in homemade stews and casseroles…

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      With you on that one. Mushrooms are never improved by making them into soup!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. August 9, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Sorry about the burger thing but I am a pensioner!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hayli
    August 10, 2015 at 5:13 am

    I read this aloud to my partner and we laughed until our diaphragms ached. More like, I laughed until it ached and he laughed at me laughing. But, I like all soup, though I am a vegetarian, and he hates everything but stew. You’re entirely correct and phenomenally entertaining. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 10, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Thanks for following and for leaving numerous lovely comments! My day has only just begun and it’s already a good one thanks to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hayli
        August 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

        You deserved it. I hope it stays lovely!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. August 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I do almost all of the cooking in my household. Given I have two small “helpers” at my side, I usually go for the quick-and-easy type meals, yet I do cook with fresh ingredients often. However, those creations get exhausting week after week after week, so a few months ago I declared Wednesday nights “Soup Night.” I kid you not. Midweek, I open up a few cans of classic chunky chicken noodle soup, dump them into a pot that I heat on the stovetop, bake a few rolls, and dinner is served. It’s kind of become an inside joke as being the best meal of the week – definitely a crowd-pleaser, that soup. Maybe Grandson will eventually see the light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      I remember my mum doing chicken noodle soup whenever we went on holiday. We didn’t know she was doing it because it was easy and it became a ‘holiday favourite’. If she ever made it outside of holiday times we thought we were having a real treat. Which on reflection is probably quite insulting to my mum’s actual cooking which is always fantastic.
      I can only hope that the grandson was smart enough to state preference for a particular kind of soup but his monosyllabic uttering don’t fill me with hope!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. August 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I think it’s hard to appreciate your mom’s/mum’s cooking when you are growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Yep, but I definitely appreciate it now!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. August 10, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I used to cook but not so much anymore. My husband has alzheimers, my oven quit on me, and I’m too tired to mess with someone coming in to make things better. So I’m a bit limited, using top of stove, toaster oven but almost no microwave. We both like soup, moreso in winter, but not every day. So we try to make do with more humor than complicated meals. Poor excuse, I know, but it is what it is. Like your postings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Humour makes up for most things in my experience! Glad you lime my postings 🙂


  10. edd31
    August 12, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    An interesting insight into the world of soup! The complexity of which has not crossed my mind before, my day has been brightened by your wonderful writing. Now for some soup!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      Choose wisely – it’s a dangerous game…


      • edd31
        August 12, 2015 at 10:20 pm

        Well now I must challenge you to a game of soup roulette! Truly the most dangerous game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • August 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm

        It sounds terrifying! You’re a mad man!


      • edd31
        August 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm

        I am sure there are some truly horrifying soups out there, and thus begins the research for a blog post….

        Liked by 1 person

  11. August 13, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I am glad the prosecutor didn’t bring casseroles into the questioning, or the defendant would have been sent to the gallows, if this were the 19th century.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      It certainly would have opened up a can of…er… (insert different metaphor of your choosing)


  12. August 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Excellent post. The complexities of soup have haunted me for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Quite frankly I’m amazed it isn’t an academic discipline…


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