The Perfect Soup Demands The Finest Ingredients (essay)

Soup is to be consumed; no one dare doubt this elemental fact.  However, the simplicity of the word ‘soup’ belies the enormity of what is addressed as one considers this substance with which we fill our bowls. Consumption, too, seems inadequate to describe the miraculous process that culminates and guides all our soup-making efforts. Truly, our very definition of these words needs to blossom for us to appreciate and speak this truth with the dignity that these words ought to command; the soup is to be consumed. Our palates, while already quite discriminating, need to become more ambitious.

The perfect soup requires the finest ingredients; then they must be used appropriately. No back alley butcher boy would think to serve a soup bone as steak, yet that same bone is indispensable to the making of soup, a process which will wring every iota of value out of that bone and use it specifically for the purpose for which it was designed. It is a fact that on this green globe there is no thing with no purpose; not for long, anyway.  Let there be no substance in existence that has no use in our soup. Let there be no flavor which cannot be put to use in our soup. It need be so, for we have willed it thus. The vegetable matter itself has been bred that we may serve the superior soup. The most useful flavors have been scientifically drawn out, and the ones that have fallen out of favor have been systematically eliminated. One can have no greater faith than that this process will continue forevermore, in pursuit of an ever more perfect soup.

I speak not merely of the wayward shrub or plant, but of the entire spectrum, number, type, depth and breadth of the vegetable matter on earth, all of which has been designed to suit our dogged pursuit of perfection. How else has this garland of greenery draped across this baby blue planet come to its present form and place? By what grace have these forms been allowed to remain and by what force has their niche been carved and their form honed? Who indeed but the intrepid few who are willing to trust their tastes and apply them to the world and forge the vegetative future of our planet. And still, yet more decisions are to be made. Once the vegetable matter has been brought to the kitchen, the first and final laboratory, it must be trimmed free of the vile spots which blacken the vegetable and confound our attempt to utilize it for our indisputably noble purposes. Such trimmings manifest their usefulness when they are ploughed under as compost. Plants producing excessively diseased products may need to be pulled up by the roots by the gardener as directed by the discerning chef. Further breeding can be expected to reduce such wasteful inefficiency in due course, as we ever more exactly approach perfection.

Out here in the dining room, the hacking of the clobber on the board is accompanied by the smacking of lips and slapping of backs. The soup itself, and all its constituent ingredients, could be imagined to be nearly delirious with anticipation as it awaits submission to the most select of taste buds. Soup is to be consumed. And there, as it tumbles between their tongue and teeth, the flavor of the future is being determined. We can only pray for their approval, for we know that heads will roll if they are displeased.

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