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In memoriam: Dining hall soup

| Monday, November 1, 2021

“Some soup! Some soup! My kingdom for some soup!”

Now, Richard III almost certainly never uttered these words, yet he also never said the same thing about a horse. Thanks, Shakespeare. Nevertheless, of late I find my own mind crying out this refrain. No matter how desperately I may yearn, I know each time I enter NDH that only bitter disappointment will greet me. Hearty vegetable soup has left us for good. Now, therefore, I want to celebrate my departed companion, whom I miss keenly daily.

I remember the day I first met good ol’ hearty vegetable soup as if it were yesterday. Perhaps with more than a little suspicion, I drew back the ladle from the pot and dumped the contents into my waiting bowl. A simple collection of boiled vegetables (mostly peas and potatoes), suspended in a thin and often watery broth, one could easily think hearty vegetable soup was neither hearty nor vegetable-y. The taste was bland, the texture questionable and the aroma uncertain. Lifting the spoon to my mouth, I questioned if this was a course of action I wanted to pursue. On contact with my taste buds, I was immediately relieved. Here was simple and honest food. There was no unnecessary flair, no needless seasoning. All I found was warm, watery lunchtime goodness. Over time, this humble tasteless dish grew to be the staple of many happy dining hall lunches. When we parted for Spring Break 2020, I never anticipated that we would never cross paths again. From that day to now, a soup-shaped hole exists in my heart. 

You could always rely on hearty vegetable soup. While other dishes might have come and gone from one day to another, nestled in its usual corner was the cauldron of soup. Hearty vegetable soup, I presumed, was a constant in life like death, taxes and falling asleep in Philosophy lectures. You could set your watch by dining hall soup. Hearty vegetable soup never failed to deliver — you knew exactly what to expect every time. No other dish was so consistent. In March 2020, so much of the security which we took for granted vanished, and one such casualty was hearty vegetable soup. I only wish I had cherished my final bowl more. 

All that remains now are memories, like the sloshing sound as the soup tumbled from the ladle into a bowl, or the crack of a packaged saltine in preparation for dipping. O soup! If only you had not left us! In your place, we find less satisfying staples, like cold cuts of undetermined origin. Nothing can ever truly fill the void left by the much-loved hearty vegetable soup. Instead, we must carry on alone, forever parted from such perfect sustenance. As Sir Edward Grey (mostly) said once, “The soup dishes are going out all over campus. I doubt we shall see them filled again in our lifetimes.” 

Goodbye, my dearly loved hearty vegetable soup. You will never be forgotten.

Eoghan Fay 


Oct. 28

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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