sing a song of soup, or, may peace soup be with you

Mixed media soup collage by Melissa Sweet

Since January is National Soup Month, thought we’d celebrate with a bit of art, a heartening song and a bowl of homemade soup. 🙂

Pictured above is one of my prize possessions — an original Melissa Sweet watercolor I won in a Small Graces auction back in 2010. It all started in 2009 when Newbery Honor author/illustrator Grace Lin donated 11 original paintings to benefit the Foundation for Children’s Books (now Wondermore). In 2010, twelve different illustrators donated their work, and each month a new painting was auctioned off.

Guess what was featured in January? Melissa Sweet’s SOUP painting had my name written all over it and I was thrilled when I won. This piece continues to feed my soul every single day. 🙂

What’s that? You’re hungry and wish you had a nice bowl of soup to slurp right this minute?


All in good time, my friends. Our soup needs a little longer to cook. Besides, I think you should earn your soup, don’t you? A little singing for your supper wouldn’t hurt one bit.

Enjoy John McCutcheon’s wonderful “Soup” — always tasty, uplifting and satisfying. When you hear the chorus, “Smells like winter in our house,” it’s hard NOT to sing along. This is a tune that warms the heart and takes you right back home. Ahhhhhh. SOUP!


words and music by John McCutcheon and Si Kahn

Get off the bus and I can see my breath
Air’s so cold that you could freeze to death
I turn up my collar and the wind starts to blowing
Sky turns gray and it starts to snowing
I put down my head, it’s only two blocks more
Make it to my house and then I open the door

Smells like winter in our house
Smells like winter in our house
It smells like winter in our house
It smells like soup

When my Dad was a kid in my Grandma’s home
She taught him how to start with the old soup bone
You put the water, carrots, celery, and onions in the pot
It only takes a little of whatever you’ve got
“There ain’t no way to hurry it,” my Grandma would remind
“Anything worth waiting for is gonna take time”

(Repeat Chorus)

All day long I hear it simmering in the pot
Sneak up to the lid, be careful it’s hot
Lift up the corner and I take a little sniff
Close my eyes and take a great big whiff
Go and get a tablespoon, to steal a little taste
I got a big soup smile all over my face

(Repeat Chorus)

Bean soup, chicken soup with macaroni
Cream of broccoli, minestrone
Potato soup, tomato soup, chowder made of clam
Miso soup, mushroom soup, split pea with ham
Bouillon, scallion, tom kha ghai with lemongrass
Matzoh ball, chilibean, cream of asparagus

So it doesn’t even matter if the cold winds blow
If the rivers freeze and there’s three feet of snow
From my Dad and my Grandma it’s what I got
The put a whole lotta love in that old black pot
In my mind I see a little boy, a distant winter day
He’s standing at the door and I can hear him say

(Repeat Chorus)

©1995 John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP) & Joe Hill Music (ASCAP)
Charlottesville, VA 1995.
From Wintersongs (RR8038)


Wonderful, wonderful happy-making music. Heard recently that John has had to cancel all his January and February tour dates due to illness. If you enjoy his music and want to toss a little love his way, why not pick up a little something from his shop? His most recent CD is Joe Hill’s Last Will, but you can also select any of his other CDs, DVDs, a t-shirt, a book, even songwriting lessons. Think of it like each of his fans adding a pinch of goodwill to a big pot of healing soup. 🙂 Get well soon, John!



Mmmmm, I think our soup’s ready! Can you smell it? It’s been simmering for just the right amount of time and now with each gentle bub bub bubble it’s eager for us to dip our spoons right in and take a taste. Oh yes, nice, nice soup, come to mama. The recipe for Peace Soup is from Blue Moon Soup: A Family Cookbook (Sky Pony Press, 1999). This oldie-but-goodie gem contains 30+ recipes by Gary Goss, former owner/chef at the Soup Kitchen Restaurant in Northampton, MA.

I confess I purchased the book because of the beautiful illustrations by Jane Dyer. I’ve been a fan of her work since the late 80’s when I saw The Three Bears Rhyme Book (written by Jane Yolen). How could I resist Animal Crackers, the Piggins books, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s cookie books? Love love love Jane’s gentle whimsical style. Her nattily attired animals, checkered floors, and dancing fruit and veggies send me into a swoon. I always wish I could live in her enchanting pictures; they represent the idyllic childhood I’ve always dreamed about.

Peace Soup illustration by Jane Dyer

Up until a few days ago, I hadn’t actually tried any of Gary’s soup recipes. I found Peace Soup in the Winter section. I was curious to taste the green soup the handsome lion and adorable lamb were sharing in that warm comfy bed. Yes, there are peas in Peace Soup! But also carrot, celery, onion, butter, milk and curry powder. True to Gary’s signature method, the recipe doesn’t call for any stock. The flavors all come from sautéing the veggies and spices first in butter, then blending them with water and milk. Oh, the aromatic curry and ginger! The kitchen smelled so good while the soup was simmering. 🙂

This is a simple, kid-friendly recipe that makes a nice lunch with a side of crusty bread. I used one teaspoon of curry powder and it was plenty. If you have an immersion blender you’re all set. What a lovely way to take the chill off a winter day. Enjoy!

Star croutons by Mr Cornelius



  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small leek, chopped (1 to 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint or 1 teaspoon curry powder (2 teaspoons if you love curry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • garnish: fresh mint or carrot curls

Stuff to do:

1. Melt the butter in a soup pot on medium heat.

2. Add the leek, mint, ginger if using, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the peas, carrot, celery, and just enough water to cover them (about 2 cups), and stir.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

5. In a blender or a large bowl, blend or mash 2 cups of the soup with the milk until thick and silky smooth.

6. Return the blended soup to the soup pot, and stir.

7. Ladle into bowls and garnish.

makes 4 to 6 servings



♥ Learn more about Jane Dyer’s other books at her Official Website and Blog.

♥ You can purchase original watercolors and wonderful prints of Jane’s work at R. Michelson Galleries.

♥ Jane is this week’s hotTEA of Children’s Literature!


poetry fridayTara Smith is hosting the Roundup at A Teaching Life. After you’ve had another bowl of soup, click through and check out the full menu of poetic goodies on this week’s menu. Have a nice weekend!




wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bibs and aprons and come join the fun!




Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

67 thoughts on “sing a song of soup, or, may peace soup be with you

  1. I think I have added more cookbooks to my collection because of you, Jama. This Blue Moon Soup creation looks so wonderful, & I agree about the illustrations, beautiful. I love that you won that Melissa Sweet illustration-a true treasure. And I love the song, new to me! “I got a big soup smile all over my face.” Thank you!


    1. The soup song always makes me happy — a good way to chase the winter blues away.

      Hope you get a chance to see Blue Moon Soup in person sometime. It’s gorgeous!


  2. I’ve never been a good soup cook but this last year I discovered putting cauliflower in ALL THE THINGS means that all of my soup is excellent. We made nettle soup in Scotland this past summer and even that was good – shockingly. I’m just becoming such a fan of the stuff, and the Peace Soup sounds delicious.

    That watercolor also makes me happy.
    Happy Friday.


  3. We are what we eat, so Peace Soup for everyone! This week I discovered smoked paprika makes lentil soup deeeeeelicious! Thanks for the song to brighten my day.


  4. I love that there are peas in peace soup. 🙂 It’s not really soup weather here at the moment … but with Mr Cornelius’ stamp of approval, I will be bookmarking this one for a chill winter’s day.


  5. The cover alone, seems reason enough to buy the book. I’m a sucker for curry and ginger in a thick, winter soup! Though I like me some French onion too. Mmmmm… is it dinner time yet, Jama? Well, by golly, it nearly is!


    1. Yes, I like French onion too! Do check out BLUE MOON SOUP — truly the pictures alone are worth the price of admission. 🙂


  6. I love this post! It’s like a warm cozy pot of soup–offering nourishment, comfort and flavor. What a delight! The warm interplay of the comments adds a soupcon of spice to it all. (Had to get that word in here somewhere!) A delicious concoction and by the way, the star-shaped croutons are simply inspired! Thanks for sharing–I’m pretty sure I’ll be making some Peace Soup this weekend and love knowing others will be doing the same.


    1. I love the word soupçon — why didn’t I think of using it in my post? Brava to you! Hope you enjoy the Peace Soup and have a great weekend. 🙂


  7. Read this post while enjoying a bowl of chicken & rice soup (that I made earlier this week) with a delicious chunk of hot bread! We love Tom Chapin, but I don’t know the soup song. Love the Jane Dyer illustration with the lion and the lamb sharing a bowl of Peace Soup!


    1. Oh, chicken and rice soup! Shades of Maurice Sendak!! Definitely one of my favorites. John’s soup song is probably my favorite soup song ever. Thanks for visiting, Ramona :).


  8. I would treasure that print too, it’s awesome that you own it. I’ve always loved that song soup (but, of course, I have) and John McCutcheon. Perfect weekend to feature soup — all this snow means soup and homemade bread and lots of books with good music in the background. Stay warm and safe!


  9. I love soup, I fought some to the party too. Leeks are are great in soup, so glad you shared that recipe. Also, thanks for the video clip of McCutcheon, love it!


  10. Hi, Jama! I haven’t been by in way too long, and revisiting I’m struck by how you PLAY WITH TOYS. Playing with toys is a wonderful thing that we adults don’t do enough–even less so now that our playgrounds are virtual, just like the children’s. I added some plain old toys to my indoor recess collection of games–action figures and a collection of stuffed vegetables characters (broccoli, onion, carrot!) and the kids were in heaven.

    Love love love the soup song, to go with Tom Chapin’s Stone Soup,

    which I used as a unifying story both in preschool and this year with 2nd graders. (We rewrote it set in Mali–our version was baobab soup!)
    And I have that Blue Moon Soup book–but my favorite Jane Dyer book is one from my kids’ baby days: Time for Bed.

    Off to make some soup now–power still on! What’s your snowfall down in NoVa?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for the stone soup video — nicely done and so much fun. I like the idea of baobab soup and the story set in Mali.

      Time for Bed is such a beloved classic. More sheep!

      We’ve got about 15 inches down here with more to come. Relieved that the winds aren’t as bad as I’d anticipated with all the scary news reports. Hope the power stays on — I may make some more soup!

      Me? Play with toys? Oh, you noticed? 😀 They seem to follow me wherever I go. Makes life a little more bearable.

      Enjoy your soup and stay warm and safe this weekend!


  11. Lovely soup theme, and perfect weather for it, even here in Hawaii. The Peace Soup reminds me of that bumper sticker from awhile back, “Whirled Peas”.


  12. Jama, what a fun post today – just the right one for a wintry day inside (winter storm is still raging and the soup is on the stove). I have a winter song section in my newest gallery, Winter Wanderings, and I think John’s poem will fit in with any poems dealing with snow. If you agree, I am going to say the poem was offered by you.


  13. I love both the John McCutcheon and the Tom Chapin soup songs! I’m regretting not picking up a bag of frozen peas when I did the shopping last week, or I could have tried this recipe right away.


  14. Love your cute little header! And the song–think that we’ll be singing it quite a bit around here as we love soup! And taking a look at the other Weekend Cooking posts, it seems that a number of others do, too. Yum!!


    1. It’s definitely a soupy weekend all over.
      Yes, isn’t the blog header great? Check out more of Aram’s work at her site. 🙂


  15. I love Melissa Sweet and love soup, and can see how that art feeds your soul. Also Jane Dyer, the sweetness. This post reminded me of that Soup Kitchen in Northampton — what a fabulous lunch stop that was.


  16. I love the art work of Melissa Sweet. It must have been the perfect day for some Peace Soup this weekend with all the snow, Thanks for sharing.


    1. Wow, what a weekend it’s been, too! Good thing for the comfort of homemade soup. Good to know you’re a fellow Melissa Sweet fan!


  17. My house smells like soup all winter long, too. 🙂 Cream of Potato with kale, Queen Green, Sausage, Tomatoes and Collard… So many lovely ones. We had clam chowder tonight in honor of the New England Patriots, who may have crashed out, but who still have fans throughout our wintry land. I’m going to try to get my act together this Friday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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