Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That Perfect Soup In a Can

Soooooooooup. I am such a soup lover. I get giddy ordering a demitasse or a cup of a chef's soup du jour (especially if it has some cream swirled in it or some sort of peppers). One of my very favorite meals on this planet is a particular tortilla soup that my husband makes (which is derived from the recipe used at a Mexican restaurant in Austin where he worked while in college). And La Madeline's tomato bisque is just heavenly. The cream of shrimp soup at the Cottage in my hometown evokes a craving I wish I could fulfill long distance from Texas. I even gleefully tote soup in a can to work for lunch quite frequently, and I am even happy about it when lunchtime at my desk inevitably rolls around. I keep a pottery bowl I made on the bookshelf in my office to jazz up the canned soup a bit to give it that little something extra on a Tuesday. It fits perfectly and keeps it warm just long enough.

I am a soup girl through and through - always have been. It makes me feel a little warmer when I'm chilly, a little more comfy when I'm stressed, a little more home when I am away, and a little more delicate when I'm just not.

The funny thing about my soup predilection is that I do NOT like to use soup spoons. Sure, the shape is pleasing - round and appealing like the headlights on a VW beetle. But my upper lip happens to be shaped in such a way that I get little spoon-cuts on the edges of it when I eat with a soup spoon (unless I slurp it out of the soup spoon, which just about ruins the experience of eating soup if you ask me - both the aesthetic experience of the soup consumer and of the accompanying meal attendees). Am I the only one with this plight?

As you can imagine, I have tried many soups... and many of the varieties available in cans are not good. Not even worth the $1 or $2 price tag they bear. There are a select few I routinely buy, and I am frequently disappointed with much of what is out there. But, one soup has stood the test of time - the Stonehenge of soups - and my palate has never tired of it. As a child, I remember my family eating it out of mugs with blue daisies on them as the accompaniment to BLT sandwiches. Sometime in my pre-teen or high school days, I began eating this soup on its own and discovered that it doesn't need the BLT accompaniment; in fact, I prefer eating it all by itself. (Not to slight BLTs in the least - I like them very much. They have bacon and mayonnaise, come on.)

That Perfect Soup In a Can is not even one of the fancier-don't-add-water types that seem to fill the supermarket shelves these days. Nope. I've never even seen any kind of advertisement for this soup. This one is old school condensed soup in the small can with a label that comes close to the old Campbell's Tomato soup label Andy Warhol appropriated for his serigraphs (albeit with some recent unfortunate modernization of the styling). And, yes, you definitely have to add water to it before cooking.

Alright already, what kind of soup is it, you ask? The Campbell's soup that apparently no one besides my family seems to know about when I talk about it. The flavor no one else has heard of when they come into the breakroom at my office, smell the lovely scent of it cooking in the microwave, and ask "Ooh, what is that? It smells so good!"

Bean with Bacon (or Bean and Bacon, which I've always called it). Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmm, good, as the old Campbell's jingle goes.