Soups and broths in our diet: origins, history and differences

by Redazione Fine Taste

Talking about soups when we are now in spring may seem bizarre.

It is certainly true that the winter climate is best suited to a steaming bowl of soup or soup, but even in this season you can enjoy the invigorating effect of this dish, perhaps served at more "warm" and refreshing temperatures.

Whatever your tastes, these two dishes have a very ancient, humble and domestic origin. Perhaps they are the "domestic" dishes par excellence: difficult, if not impossible, to find them on restaurant menus. No other dish of the great Italian culinary tradition is given this treatment. Sometimes we find it "ennobled" with the term "velvety", but it is always a sort of exception that confirms the rule.

It is curious that even in common language the word soup takes on a negative meaning: a banal dish with no personality. Who among us has never heard these popular sayings: "always eat the same soup", "eat this soup or jump out the window", "you can't deny a plate of soup to anyone".

What a terrible injustice! Soups can be masterpieces of taste and originality. With their infinite variations of colours, flavors and textures they are often tastier and more appealing than other dishes. What do you think about it?

What is the difference between soup and soup?

Let's start from the etymology of the two terms.

Definition of soup

If you look in the dictionary, the term soup indicates a "rice or pasta dish, in broth with vegetables and legumes, or cooked in water, drained and seasoned".

From the definition, soup can therefore be either in broth or dry. In the most common sense, however, soup was born and associated with broth: even today, soup refers to a liquid preparation with vegetables.

The word "minestra" is very ancient, the written testimonies where it appears for the first time date back to the 1200s. It derives from the Latin "minestrare", which means to administer and therefore "ministered", i.e. served by the head of the family.

Definition of soup

The term soup, however, is much more recent (15th-16th century) and derives from the Gothic word "suppa" which means "soaked slice". In the Middle Ages the dish consisted of a large, wide slice of bread on which the various foods were placed. At the end of the meal this bread, soaked in the juices and seasonings of meat and other ingredients, was given to the servants who put it in a pot with vegetables and water, obtaining a tasty hot dish.

Its preparation in fact consists of bread (generally stale) immersed in a broth of legumes and vegetables. Chickpea, lentil and bean soups became widespread starting from this period.

If you think about it, this tradition has survived to this day too, think for example of the slices of homemade bread that are placed at the bottom of the soup plate in some preparations!

Alongside soups and soups, there are variations: minestrone and velouté.


Minestrone is a richer preparation than normal soup, especially due to the use of a greater number of thickening vegetable ingredients, such as dried or fresh legumes, potatoes and pumpkin. Seasoning fats vary according to the various regions: butter, olive oil, lard or even pork rind. Minestrone can be enjoyed hot, warm or cold. In some cases, it's even better when reheated the next day. The flavors are more concentrated and make it even more delicious.

Creamy and velvety

The term crema applied to a savory and creamy preparation is not traditionally used in everyday cooking, but belongs to haute cuisine. By the classic name, creams are creamy soups based on vegetables, meat or fish prepared with a white roux or bechamel, then bound with flour and enriched with cooking cream.

Let's say that on the preparation side the boundary between cream and velouté is very blurred, often the difference is made by the number of ingredients (fewer in the cream and greater in the velouté) and the consistency you want to obtain.

In Italy, is there a region in which recipes based on soups and soups are more numerous or are they the same in all regions without too much distinction? Difficult to determine!

We chose Tuscany and if you want to taste artisanal organic soups you can find them here.