I have a confession: I love soup.
Okay, it’s not exactly a confession because it isn't exactly a secret.
It's just a fact.
I love soup.
Sure, soup is just broth with some stuff thrown in. Maybe rice, noodles, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc. But each soup I frequently eat has a memory or thought I now associate with it.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started to think about soups I like, and the characters in literature, film, and television they remind me of.
This article is a little tour of my mind, and the kind of thoughts that occur as I eat soup. No, it's not deep, thought provoking, or anything super meaningful. Your life will most likely not be enriched by reading this article.
But you might have some fun. So . . . have fun!
아지매국밥 - Leetah from Elfquest
This is from a Korean restaurant called 부산아지매국밥. So, yeah, I guess you could say this is their signature dish. It’s delicious. It tastes wonderful.
I ate it every time I got sick in Korea. I don’t associate it with feeling ill, I actually associate it with feeling better. Even today, when I feel sick, this is the soup that I crave. It’s just spicy enough to clear out sinuses. It’s flavourful enough I can taste it even if I’m stuffed up. It’s got delicious broth, but also is served with rice and strips of beef. Filling, and easy to digest.
As for a soup, I would define it as reliable, a staple, helpful.
That is why I think of Leetah when I think of 부산아지매국밥. I mean, if I were sick, I would want to be around Leetah. One, she could heal me, kind of like how 아지매국밥 does. Two, Leetah is a spunky character. Kind of like the spice in 아지매국밥. Three, Leetah is a fantastic, three-dimensional character, with so much to offer—just like 아지매국밥.
Pumpkin Soup - Garak from Star Trek Deep Space Nine
I didn’t start eating pumpkin soup until I was 26, and recovering from a very bad case of food poisoning. I had only been in Beijing for a week at the time, and I had trouble finding food I could eat due to the language barrier.
I left the apartment one day and stumbled on an Italian restaurant. I ordered a bowl of pumpkin soup, and it was the first real food I had eaten in a week.
I cannot express the delight this soup gave me. If I could define it, it was . . . love at first sight.
It's kind of like the first time I saw Garak. When I ate pumpkin soup for the first time, I craved that kind of fullness that I had when I finished the pumpkin soup. Garak's kind of like that. When I saw Garak's first appearance in DS9, I wanted to find more Garak episodes, like, ASAP. I love pumpkin soup, and did from the first time I ate it. Kind of like how I loved Garak from the first time I saw his character.
부산밀면 - Lily Aldrin from How I Met Your Mother
I’m sure you’re noticing a theme with being delicious. Yes, I find 부산밀면 delicious, but it’s the kind of soup that you love or hate. I’m in the category of loving it, but many people I share it with hate the soup.
It’s spicy, but it’s also cold, with noodles, radishes, and half a hard boiled egg. It might not sound good, and depending on who you are it might be the worst thing you’ve ever eaten. But for me? I love it.
If I could define it, I would call it sassy.
Just like Lily Aldrin. Sure, I think by and large people love her. But she's sassy, and her character is beautiful with a bit of a bite. Just like 부산밀면.
It's such a mix of sweet and spicy—and I mean that about Lily Aldrin and 부산밀면.
짬봉 - Tahani Al-Jamil from The Good Place
This is a spicy seafood soup. It’s popular at Chinese restaurants in Korea. It’s well loved, but only among people who love spicy soups and seafood. Regardless of the seemingly niche audience this soup would seem to attract, it was very popular with my coworkers and me.
When I think about this soup, I think about going out and socialising after a long day of work. Chinese restaurants were the place to go after staying late at work.
If I could describe this soup, I would describe it as sociable, relaxing, and hard working.
I assigned 짬봉 to Tahani because she was the ultimate hostess in The Good Place. Because I think of 짬봉 as a social soup, and one of group gatherings, it seems fitting an outstanding hostess would be associated with it.
Pho - Skywise from ElfQuest
I ate this soup, and variations of it, quite a bit when I was in Danang, Vietnam. It was inexpensive, easy to find and, yes, delicious. I remember the first time I tried it, I was with a new friend. Someone at a “communist coffee shop” had told her this particular restaurant had the best pho in Vietnam.
While I’m not 100% if this was true, I enjoyed eating pho from thereon out.
I would describe this soup as easy, breezy, lemon squeezy.
Skywise was the only character I could think of for Pho. He's a laid-back character, reliable, and with his pods is able to be all over the world of two moons. As a character, he also grows and develops. Wolf blood. No wolf blood. Wolf Rider. New High One. He evolves similar to how Pho does when you have it as different restaurants, with different meats/vegetables in it, or different added spices/sauces into the soup.
Whatever the f*ck this is - Borg Queen from Star Trek
The time is the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m staying in a delightful little apartment in Tainan, Taiwan. I think I’ll give my hand at cooking, despite the fact my apartment only has boiling water and a toaster oven for a kitchen.
I get some instant cheese soup, noodles, canned chicken, and capers and . . . well, I put this abomination together.
The first and second time I eat it, it's delicious.
By the third time I eat this dish . . . I realise how disgusting it is.
If I could describe this soup, I would describe it as . . . disgusting.
Kind of like the Borg Queen. Sure, the first time you saw her you might have thought she was beautiful. Then, you see her as a head with a metal spine and . . . ew. She's a collection of metal body parts, and some organic material. This soup was a collection of various regretful cuisine choices.