Judge John Hodgman on the Soup Debate

Paul writes: I’m the cook in our house. As summer turns to fall, I like to make hearty soups. But my wife contends that soup is not a dinner food — unless she is sick. I say this is absurd.

Your wife can always make her own prime rib or pheasant under glass or whatever. Those are definitely capital-D dinners. But while she may be unappreciative, she isn’t wrong. I love all soup (apart from the crime of Manhattan clam chowder). It obviously has a place at the Western dinner table, along with its old buddy, nuts. But to my mind, it shouldn’t. Soup is nourishing in a singular way partly because it is so slurpy and personal. It’s perfect for a solo lunch or late-night inhalation at the ramen bar. I’ll grant it even makes a good light supper, with some crusty bread, if your marriage is at the empty nest, seated side by side while rewatching “Mad Men” stage, like mine. But if you can’t put a fork in it, dinner isn’t done. Try getting into stew.

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