Souper Tomatoes: The Story of America's Favorite Food

by Andrew F. Smith

Hardcover, 2000


Call number

Vegetables, Roots -- SMI

Call number

Vegetables, Roots -- SMI


Rutgers University Press (2000), Hardcover, 236 pages


            For decades, countless children across the U.S. have eagerly consumed bowls of a steamy reddish-orange liquid that is as easy to make as it is comforting to eat: tomato soup. In Souper Tomatoes, culinary historian Andrew F. Smith tells the story of how tomato soup has become a regular staple in practically every American kitchen. This saga, he writes, "is a juicy tale filled with unexpected twists and turns. It is action packed, peopled with seedsmen and farmers, grocers and scientists, commercial artists and hard-hitting advertisers, and just plain old every-day consumers--all of whom have contributed to the transformation of tomato soup into one of America's favorite dishes."             Smith explores the prehistoric origin of soup and traces its development through the nineteenth century. He then focuses on how the tomato was introduced in Europe and America. Now America--and New Jersey--take center stage, as Smith examines the rise of the canning industry, particularly in New Jersey, and the complex distribution and advertising networks that transformed tomato soup into a household staple. The reader will learn how a scientific whiz at the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company in New Jersey produced the world's first successful condensed soup and persuaded American homemakers to make this bit of canned wizardry a staple food product.             In the evolution of the business from a mom-and-pop shop to a fully automated global business, the tomato has evolved, as well. New varieties of this fruit were bred to have traits making them perfect for canning. One of the leading breeds? The Rutgers tomato.             Souper Tomatoes concludes with an investigation of tomato soup as an icon of American life. Over one hundred historical recipes for soups including tomatoes as an ingredient make this book a culinary, as well as a historical, delight.… (more)

Physical description

236 p.; 9.37 inches
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