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Soup is a savoury liquid food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables and/or legumes in hot stock or water, until the flavor is extracted.
Traditionally, soups are classified into two broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish thickened with cream; cream soups are thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter and cream. Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include rice, flour, and grain.
The word soup originates from "sop", a dish originally consisting of a soup or thick stew which was soaked up with pieces of bread. The modern meaning of sop has been limited to just the bread intended to be dipped.
Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of pouches made of clay or animal skin) about 5,000 years ago (possibly longer), so soups presumably were little-known before that time.
With the invention of microwave ovens, it is possible to prepare soup without the long hours of traditional stove-top simmering. While microwave soups can be completed in minutes, slow cookers and crock pot soup recipes often require many hours to complete albeit with the convenience of virtually unattended cooking and low energy usage.