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It's common knowledge that the word "soup" comes from the same source as the English term "sop" meaning "a piece of bread soaked in liquid". In common parlance, "soup" replaced "sop" at about the same time that people began serving the heated liquid without the ever-present piece of bread (approximately one-hundred years after Catherine de Medici arrived in France with her entire kitchen in tow and proceeded to transform the world of French cuisine). However, it's likely that people have been enjoying some version of meat cooked in heated water since the days when prehistoric man was forced to stalk and kill his dinner before he could even think about cooking it.

The origins of boiling are lost to history. Nonetheless, in The History of Food, Raey Tannahill states that it's clear man knew about boiling long before the invention of earthenware pottery (around 6,000 BC). Ever inventive, prehistoric man found that bamboo trees filled with clay, reptile shells, and especially the stomachs from the animals they had killed, all made perfect vessels in which to boil liquid filled with fresh meat over a hot fire. When nothing else was available, they could always resort to the more time consuming method of filling a pit with water and throwing in a few stones heated from the fire to bring the water to a boil. (How they managed to transport the hot stones from fire to water without scalding themselves in the process remains a mystery).

Various evidence, including residue sticking to pots, tells us man was regularly consuming soup by the Iron and Bronze Ages. The Ancient Romans ate soup, including a type of fish broth cooked in wine and spices. The Greeks were familiar with soup as well.