Rewind Serves up a Bowl of Soup

A Sotheby's technician walks past a set of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup screenprints at the auction rooms in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A Sotheby's technician walks past a set of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup screenprints at the auction rooms in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)


As the weather gets colder and the days shorter, Rewind turns its thoughts... and stomachs... to soup. Soup has existed in every culture and in every era and has used just about every ingredient imaginable. Soup can highlight food or hide it, stretch the budget or be extravagant. On this show you'll hear about tomato soup and fish chowder, Peking thickened soup and pappa al pommodoro, soup kitchens to Andy Warhol with his Campbell soup can art.

Our first piece is a reminder that CBC Radio used to have commercials. And yes, before you write in, we know that you can once again hear commercials on Radio Two. But this was back in the old days, when Aylmer's Tomato Soup had the cutest little jingle. The year was 1940. 

Kate Aitken, the popular CBC host in the 1940s and 50s packed her show with homely advice and tips, fashion and recipes. Including one for a soup you could make with mashed turnips and carrots.

Next up some clips from the program Assignment, one of the early news and current affairs programs on CBC Radio. Its mandate was to tell stories about interesting people, places and events from across Canada. Which included food. One of its regular contributors was the eccentric James Bannerman. On this occasion, in the fall of 1956, he talked to the writer Pierre Berton about tomato soup.

soup can sized.jpgNext, something from the Campbell Soup Company, a question answered: is the soup most connected to Canadians, or at least Quebecers, still pea soup?

In 1962, Campbell's tomato soup was the inspiration for the pop artist Andy Warhol. He started his career as a commercial illustrator and said he liked to paint things he thought were beautiful. Things you use every day and never think about. Those soup can paintings transformed Warhol into a household name and had a lasting influence on the art world. By 1975, when he released a book called The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, people clamoured to get into the party. The program Gzowski on FM sent freelancer Sheila Shotten to the event in Toronto.

PHOTO: Can of Campbell's Tomato Soup. (AP Photo/James H. Collins, File).  

After that, a feature from Assignment again, and James Bannerman. It's a piece from 1959 that reminds us that soup and soup kitchens have often been a hallmark of the poor. This particular item concerns the potato famine in Ireland, and a French chef called Alexis Soyer who attempted to ease the misery of starving people with soup.

Of course soup kitchens are not just a relic of the past. Call them charity kitchens, food banks or bread lines, they are alive and well and unfortunately thriving. We aired a piece from the program This Country in the Morning in 1974.

Moving on to another piece from This Country in the Morning, this time in 1975. Michael Enright was the host of the program that year, and he got the chance to talk to the great Canadian boxer George Chuvalo about black bean soup. George Chuvalo is considered the greatest Canadian heavyweight champion of all time. He fought all the greats and nobody - not Joe Frazier, George Foreman or even Muhammad Ali - ever knocked him out. Outside the ring, however, life dealt Chuvalo several crushing body blows: he lost three sons to drug addiction and his wife to suicide. But on this occasion he and Michael talked about soup. Before they got started, Michael asked Chuvalo to show him his massive boxer's hands. 

Chicken soup has been a comfort food and health tonic in Jewish culture for centuries. In 1976, the program Identities talked to Mrs Ida Myravitch of Winnipeg to find out how to make a proper chicken soup.

The program Identities did another piece about soup later that year, this time with Dick Chen, an artist, Master Chef and cooking school owner in Montreal. Our clip had him teaching a class how to make Peking thickened soup.

The program Morningside with Peter Gzowski loved talking about food, whether it was Caesar salad, chocolate cake, shortbread or yes, soup. We had a couple of samples. First it's fish chowder with Peter Gard in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland.

Finally, in every discussion about soup, sooner or later you get to the divisive issue of cold soup. Yes there are precedents. Gazpacho, vichyssoise and cold fruit soup come to mind. Still, Peter Gzowski was a little skeptical about the whole idea when he talked to Bonnie Stern in 1990. 

And that took us to the end of our hour about soup. Did we leave out any of your favourites? Bouillabaisse or cream of mushroom? Clam chowder or French onion? Egg drop soup or Tom Yum? Why don't you leave us a message and tell us about it. You can do that right here, or you can send us an email at Rewind at

And here's that recipe for Alexis Soyer's Famine Soup:

Original Recipe 1847:
• 12.5 lbs legs of beef
• 100 gallons of water
• 6.25 lbs of drippings
• 100 onions and other vegetables
• 25 lbs of flour (seconds)
• 25 lbs of pearl barley
• 1.5 lbs of brown sugar
• 9 lbs of salt

Modern Interpretation:
• 1kg Legs of Beef
• 2 litres of Water or Beef Stock
• 100g of Butter
• 1 Onion, peeled and chopped
• 200g of other vegetables: turnips, celery, leeks etc
• 100g of Flour
• 200g of Barley
• 50g of Brown Sugar
• Salt to Season

1. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan (famine pot)
2. Sweat onions and other vegetables, add sugar and flour; cook until coloured
3. Add pearl barley and stock
4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hours, adjust the seasoning
5. Serve from pot with oat cakes 

The music is Hawkesley Workman: Let's Make Some Soup