Join 3,551 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Cereal = Soup?
April 26, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Is cereal a soup?

Is it? This is a long running 'discussion' I've been having with my girlfriend.

The basic proprieties of soup is that it is one or more ingredients prepared and served in a liquid.

So by this understanding, its a soup. But she's maintaining that its so categorically different, that even though it matches on the surface, fundamentally they are different enough that the similarities don't matter.

I guess this may end up being, is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Yes its a fruit, but its only really USED as a vegetable so who really cares. But you know what they say, being technically correct is the best kind of correct.
posted by Carillon to Food & Drink (83 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
OK, somebody's going to bring up gazpacho and ruin my argument, but I think the basis of soup is a stock, and therefore cereal cannot be a soup.
posted by londonmark at 8:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If by "cereal" you mean something like corn flakes, I don't think it qualifies as "soup" because the liquid is technically only an optional thing, as oppose to being intrinsically part of the dish. You could, if you wanted to (and when I was a kid, I often did) eat dry cereal dry. That puts the milk part into the realm of a "garnish", albeit a really generous portion of it. So I don't think dry cereal would qualify as "soup".

If instead you mean something like oatmeal or grits -- technically I'd say that is more like a stew than a "soup", because the purpose of the liquid is to make the grain soft and prepare it for being eaten. It's kind of like risotto that way, where the grain absorbs the liquid. You're not supposed to have very much of a liquid element left by the time you serve it. If you consider risotto to be a stew, however, then oatmeal would be the same thing. If not, then no.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you were in a restaurant and asked what their soup of the day was, and the waiter replied "Lucky Charms," how would you react?
posted by phunniemee at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [25 favorites]


If cereal is a soup, then a cocktail with an olive in it is a soup (I make martinis with several gherkins in it, personally).

Is a cocktail a soup? Or do we rely on common understanding of what "soup" is to conclude that not all liquids with solids in them are soups?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I dunno Haddock, there seems to be a distinction between drinks and food which precludes cocktails being a soup.
posted by Carillon at 8:52 AM on April 26, 2011


I think the main difference between them is that the liquid in most soups is used to cook the items floating in it. It's not the main method for all soups, but the majority of them work this way.

Adding milk to cereal is like adding ketchup to a hamburger to me.
posted by royalsong at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you could argue that if fruit soups are category of soup, then cereal can be called a soup. I don't know how far it will get you, but you could try.
posted by clockwork at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2011


This question was answered by Judge John Hodgman in his podcast. It was dicta however because the issue addressed in the case was "Is Chili a Soup?"
posted by Sculthorpe at 8:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hah Sculthorpe, that's actually what prompted me bringing up the point. I disagreed with his essential dismissal of the question. I couldn't think of a reason why it wasn't that convinced me.
posted by Carillon at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2011


there seems to be a distinction between drinks and food which precludes cocktails being a soup.

By your reasoning, milk is a drink (albeit non-alcoholic) and therefore cereal is not a soup. Otherwise, root beer floats would count as soup too.
posted by ambrosia at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


There are plenty of cold soups, such as vichyssoise, but even gazpacho is cooked before being chilled. Of course, there are dessert soups too.

I am really glad the spell checker knew how to spell vichyssoise.

Wikipedia lists many types of soup, but cereal is not among them.
posted by annsunny at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno Haddock, there seems to be a distinction between drinks and food which precludes cocktails being a soup.

There also seems to be a distinction between cereal and soup which precludes cereal being a soup.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [37 favorites]


I think if you're going to claim cereal in milk as a soup, then the term becomes so broad as to be meaningless.

A jar of pickles becomes pickle soup. Canned corn dumped in a bowl becomes corn soup.
posted by chazlarson at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are plenty of cold soups, such as vichyssoise, but even gazpacho is cooked before being chilled. Of course, there are dessert soups too

I can assure you that gazpacho is not cooked.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The word "porridge" describes a cereal or grain (and perhaps other ingredients like salt, flavorings, raisins, currants, berries, or or other fruit/nuts/sweetners) cooked in water, milk, or broth. So, perhaps you need to expand your classification system to include soup, porridge and cold cereal.
posted by paulsc at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which is what Haddock? That's what I'm trying to get at. I can see why there is a distinction between a drink and a food for the most part, but not between soup and cereal.
posted by Carillon at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2011


The key part of cereal is the cereal itself -- the grain-based flakes or groats or Os or whatever. You can eat it with milk (cow, soy, almond, rice) or even water, but the cereal itself can be eaten on its own and still called "cereal." You can't say that for soup.
posted by Madamina at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


We could look at this from another angle:

Perhaps the reason cereal is not a soup or that chili or a cocktail is not a soup is that someone a long time ago, let's say it was a famous philosopher like Aristotle so we can comfort ourselves with the notion that they thought about this for a good, long time, saw fit to give them different names. We don't call it milk soup with flakes of corn. We call it cereal. We don't call it spicy bean and beef soup with tomato, we call it chili. The mere fact that we call it cereal is reason enough for it to not be a soup.
posted by phunniemee at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


No.
posted by starman at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right, because chili is clearly a stew.
posted by electroboy at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you make "ice cream soup," you do so by letting the ice cream melt with chunks of cake in it. The gluten-based cake among the dairy-based ice cream seems pretty close to the gluten-based Cap'n Crunch among the dairy-based milk. The biggest difference seems to be the amount of liquid versus solids. Thus:

Cereal is only soup if there is twice as much liquid by volume as there is solids.

Does your girlfriend know how metafilter's Best Answers work? If she doesn't, you can mark a pro-cereal-is-soup answer as Best, and then point to the screen, and shrug, and say, "Well, look, objectively cereal is a soup, this one got marked Best Answer."
posted by Greg Nog at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


What do you think a definition is?

That sounds rhetorical, but it's not. The heart of the question you're asking is what it means to say that the term, "soup," has a particular definition.

Some might say that the definition of "soup" is analytic, which would mean that what counts as soup and what does not would be something discoverable simply by thinking about it. If you believe this, then "X is soup" is discoverable by reason alone in the same way that "all unmarried men are bachelors" doesn't require you to go around and ask unmarried men if they're bachelors.

However, that doesn't really seem to work so well here, given how hard of a time we're having in this thread deciding what those necessary and sufficient conditions of souphood are. So, I suggest you turn to Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein is famous for arguing (or...suggesting, depending on how you read him) that the meanings of words, along with all forms of language, depend on their use. In other words, he says that there's nothing more to a word than how it is used. We don't use the word "soup" to describe cereal. You say "Hand me that bowl of soup" when there's a bowl of cereal on the table, no one will understand you. We just don't use language that way.

Here, I'd side with Wittgenstein. It's just nonsense to say that cereal is a soup, given how people actually use the word, 'soup.' The mere fact that you can't carefully spell out the necessary and sufficient conditions for souphood that preclude cereal from being a soup doesn't mean that cereal must be a soup.

Wittgenstein's theory of language has been hotly debated. I'm not suggesting that his account is The! Final! Word! on the issue... But, man, it certainly makes sense in this context, doesn't it?
posted by meese at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2011 [66 favorites]


Word meanings are primarily determined by usage, not the other way around. In other words, the meaning of a word isn't a mathematical equation but rather a more dynamic concept.

In this case, I'm pretty sure the overwhelming majority of English speakers would never call cereal soup, and would be confused if someone else did so. The normal usage of the two words would lead to the conclusion that cereal is not a soup.
posted by greenmagnet at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cereal is defined as grass whose starchy grains are used as food: wheat; rice; rye; oats; maize; buckwheat; millet.

When you go to the store to "buy cereal" you aren't buying a dish of grains with milk, you're buying a box of grains.

We all assume that when you eat cereal you're going to eat it with milk.. but there are people who don't and there are people who eat it with water instead.

So no, cereal is not soup. It is grains we add milk/liquid to in order to make a dish that is easier to eat.
posted by royalsong at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can see why there is a distinction between a drink and a food for the most part, but not between soup and cereal.

Okay -- look at it like this.

Can you serve the whatever-it-is without the liquid part, and have it still be...the same thing? With cereal, you can. Corn flakes are corn flakes, no matter whether you have milk in them or not.

But with soup...it's not the same thing. If you strained all the broth out of minestrone, you'd get....a pile of beans and vegetable bits and pasta. More like a casserole sort of thing rather than being "soup". It works the same way with things like vichysoisse and gazpacho -- strain the liquid out and you get very finely minced vegetable matter. It would be more akin to baby food than it would "vichysoisse" or "gazpacho". Even with a cocktail (someone joked that) -- take the liquid away from a martini, and all you've got is an olive. And an olive is not a martini.

So that may be a way to wrap your head around it -- if you have a thing, and you strained the liquid out of that thing, would it still be identifiable as that thing? No? Then that thing is soup. If yes? Then that thing is not soup.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


As a certified Random Stranger on the Internet, allow me to answer your question:

Yes, cereal is a soup, and everyone who says otherwise is wrong.

You're welcome.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem here is that you're trying to compare two different things.

"Cereal" refers to an ingredient that is not in itself soup, but could become part of a soup when immersed in liquid, just as "carrots" or "chicken" are not "soup."

"Soup" refers to a method of preparation (wikipedia: "Soup is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water or another liquid") - that is, it is the product of combining several ingredients, and usually (but not always) cooking them.

So cereal is not in itself a soup, but it could certainly be an ingredient in a soup. If you add corn flakes to chicken noodle soup, then its part of a soup. The question then is "does simply pouring milk over something make it a soup?" Would pouring milk over carrots or chicken or rice qualify it as a soup? I would answer that "no," but others might disagree.
posted by googly at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


No! Cereal is still identifiably made up of milk and cereal (and maybe some mini marshmallows if you are 8 years old or me). Soup is greater than the sum of its parts, and becomes soup by virtue of the blending of flavors.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should amend; maybe not "meaningless" so much as "useless"

Offered "corn soup", I have an idea of what to expect. I'm not sure at this point how I'd generalize that expectation, but I know that corn in a dish of water does not qualify.

Certainly this is corn soup, and you could remove ingredients one at a time without it immediately becoming non-soup, but at some point you're going to be left with corn in water, which is clearly not soup.

It seems to me that if you define cereal in milk as soup, then you'd also define the first image on this page as corn soup.
posted by chazlarson at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2011


I eat my cereal dry and it's still cereal. It's hard to eat dry soup. (Though I have enjoyed Campbell's Double Noodle straight from the can, which in its condensed form I would classify as "noodly sludge.")
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gazpacho is definitely raw.

This is frankly a goofy question. If you define "soup" as "any dish that consists of stuff in a liquid", then yes, cereal is a soup (and that doesn't preclude it from also being other things).

But culinary terms—especially broad categories such as "soup", in contrast to more specific and technical terms such as "Béchamel sauce"—very rarely have absolute definitions. They're usually informed as much by context and subjectivity as they are by hard, measurable properties. So there's no definitive answer to the question.

A dish is a soup if it's presented as a soup, or appreciated as a soup, or understood to belong to the same family of dishes as soup. Can you honestly say that any of those are true about cereal?

If you asked "do you have soup?" at any restaurant in the world (or of any chef), and they did have cereal but not have soup soup, every one of them would tell you "no". (And would think you were a freak if you started insisting that cereal was soup.)

So, I agree with your girlfriend.

Also: cereal is usually sweet, and (in my experience) categorically never savory. That's at least one fairly hard line between cereal and soup.
posted by ixohoxi at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2011


Cereal is a stew.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Haha, would that settle it Aizkolari, that'd be great.

And I know its a goofy question, but on the other hand I am curious. I mean you guys have definitely put me on track to being convinced. What was the sticking point for me as I mentioned was whether it was usage as opposed to some other category which I was missing that separated the dish of cereal and milk out from the soup category.

The point about eating it dry as opposed to wet was definitely a good point I hadn't thought of.
posted by Carillon at 9:16 AM on April 26, 2011


I think what you (and many people in this thread) are running up against is the fact that concepts aren't represented in the mind with necessary and sufficient conditions. Rather, they are more graded. One way of thinking about concepts is that they are structured around "prototypes", or good examplars of the category. There are various properties that typically go into identifying something as being a good exemplar, i.e. for soup, some such properties are being hot, being mostly liquid, being typically eaten for dinner or lunch, being savory, being constructed from a broth or stock (or some non-homogeneous base), etc. As people have pointed out, there are things classified as soups that lack some or even many of these properties. So what we can conclude is that cereal is very far from being a good exemplar for the category soup. Fruit soups are also not good exemplars, but for things on the boundary, there may be fairly arbitrary lines drawn.

This answer is less satisfying than what you are looking for, because it doesn't allow us to say for absolutely sure "cereal is not soup", or at least give a clear, categorical reason why it shouldn't be. But it is much more consistent with experimental evidence as to how people do classify objects. And given that soup is just a human artifact that developed over the course of many years in many different cultural contexts, it perhaps shouldn't be surprising that there isn't an obvious rhyme or reason as to how we classify it, and attempts to impose some logical thinking on the category are not easily successful. (Btw I don't mean to suggest that there is no logical underpinning to how prototypes/exemplars/categories work -- there is, and it is even fairly well-studied, it just doesn't consist of necessary and sufficient conditions or anything leading to categorical judgments for all objects.)
posted by advil at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


No. Now go thank your girlfriend for tolerating your side of this "discussion."
posted by smorange at 9:24 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gazpacho is made from mostly raw ingredients, I agree. Almost all recipes call for tomato juice, which is cooked.
posted by annsunny at 9:29 AM on April 26, 2011


Also, as long as we are here I would like to go on the record as not being down with restaurants that serve smoothies in soup bowls and call them "chilled summer fruit soups." Just bring it to me in a glass with a straw, please. (And maybe a shot of rum.)
posted by JoanArkham at 9:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Prepared cereal (let's use Golden Grahams, because, like, yum) is no more different from your basic 'lowest common denominator noodle' than other things that are commonly accepted to be noodles (dumplings, rivels, ditalini, etc). Milk is a single ingredient, but is otherwise 'brothy'. There are other soups that involve adding ingredients to broth at service (some pho, some miso). There are other cold soups.

Cereal is a soup.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"cereal" is a generic word for grain (certain classes of grain?). You can take away the milk & still have "cereal." You can add cereals (barley jumps to mind) to soups, but they are ingredients, not the definition of the dish. I think whatever reason for the distinction most people seem to make is likely rooted in that initial fact.
posted by Ys at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2011


Ok, so the dish cereal with milk Ys.
posted by Carillon at 9:32 AM on April 26, 2011


I eat my cereal dry.
posted by valkyryn at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2011


Some additional insight into this question can be seen in this video. And as far as my personal opinion, I like the classification as a porridge. Semantics are as semantics do.
posted by kaytwo at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2011


I guess my point is, its an apples-to-oranges debate. "Cereal" is a word that describes the main ingredient of the prepared food (and has expanded to include "with milk"), whereas soup, I would suppose, describes a mode of preparation of food. But the definition really depends on group acceptance. If, in 50 years, some other generations concludes that cereal is "soup", then soup it will be. Consider yourself on the cutting edge & be understanding when others scoff.
posted by Ys at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost all recipes call for tomato juice, which is cooked.

Corn Flakes (for example) are cooked too.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:47 AM on April 26, 2011


I eat Ramen noodles dry so I guess you could have dry soup. (The crunch is awesome!)

I am on the side that it is a soup, just an unusual one. As for not using the term soup for cereal, I will start tomorrow morning with my 14 year old son. He will have a choice of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich or Cheerios soup. I can assure you he will understand exactly what I mean by that.

But, one of the rules I live by is never contradict a female when her answer is as valid as any, so your gf probably has a good point.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2011


Corn Flakes (for example) are cooked too.

So is milk! That's how they pasteurize it!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gazpacho is made from mostly raw ingredients, I agree. Almost all recipes call for tomato juice, which is cooked.

If by "cooked" you mean pasteurized, then cereal is also cooked, as milk is obviously pasteurized, and the corn flakes (or whatever) are also cooked. However, the logic of "one cooked ingredient makes the entire dish cooked" would lead to the conclusion that sushi is a cooked dish, because the rice has been prepared.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2011


If you add cheerios to chicken stock, is it oats soup?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:53 AM on April 26, 2011


I have to amend my answer above. Judge John Hodgman addressed the issue in a different podcast. At the four minute mark in the linked podcast, he was asked to decide whether cereal with milk was a beverage, a sauce or a broth. He said that the question made as much sense as asking whether cereal with milk was "a paperback or a flying griffin." His conclusion was that cereal with milk fit into none of the specified categories. Since a broth is a kind of soup, his reasoning leads to the conclusion that cereal with milk is not a soup. Judge John Hodgman's logic is unassailable and his wisdom is renowned. Those who disagree do so at their peril.
posted by Sculthorpe at 10:04 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's not a soup. It's a grain.
posted by tel3path at 10:08 AM on April 26, 2011


If you are defining cereal to mean "a bowl containing (likely) cooked grains or grain-derivatives with milk poured over top" then I would say that it's not a soup, because the milk is the sauce, not the stock.

This is a question akin to the ever-popular "Is a hot dog a sandwich" ?

posted by namewithoutwords at 10:16 AM on April 26, 2011


cereal = breakfast soup
posted by FreezBoy at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2011


I eat my cereal dry.

I eat mine as a soup prepared with refrigerated a milk stock.
posted by yeti at 10:51 AM on April 26, 2011


Cereal is not soup. Why not?

Because the names we give food are not part of any rigid taxonomy. You're trying to find taxonomy where there is only nomenclature.

Soup is soup. Cereal is cereal. Is cereal like soup? Why, yes, it is. But since there's no taxonomy, the similarity has no effect on the nomenclature.
posted by The World Famous at 10:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Googly is mostly there, and I'll amend FreezeBoy thusly:

Cereal* is one of two main ingredients in an as yet un-named soup that is often eaten at breakfast.

*"Cereal" in this case being defined as processed ingredients (usually including "cereal grains") produced to be used in this breakfast soup.
posted by Mngo at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soup should stay the same consistency for a reasonable amount of time when at a particular temperature higher than freezing and lower than boiling. Grain-cereal-in-milk, aka breakfast cereal as usually prepared, degrades too quickly and ergo does not have enough of the stasis soup requires.

That being said, then oatmeal-cooked-in-milk-or-water (or broth I guess?) would be soup, although not all soups have to be cooked.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:35 AM on April 26, 2011


When I make oatmeal, I make it very, very, very thick. I'm talking turn-the-bowl-upside-down-and-it-stays-in-the-bowl thick. I still consider this a cereal. I assert that no bowl of soup could be turned upside down without the contents spilling out. Thus, at least some cereals are not soups.

Not that I'm saying spilling out is proof of being soup. Spillability is a necessary but not sufficient property of souphood.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 AM on April 26, 2011


When I make oatmeal, I make it very, very, very thick. I'm talking turn-the-bowl-upside-down-and-it-stays-in-the-bowl thick. I still consider this a cereal.

Oatmeal is literally cereal no matter what form it is in, since cereal just means a grain used for food.
posted by The World Famous at 11:48 AM on April 26, 2011


if you put other things in your morning cereal, like cut-up fruit, marshmallows, and flax, does this render the mixture a soup?
posted by lizbunny at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2011


Breakfast oatmeal is a porridge.

The fundamental thing you're missing here is that soup's base is flavored water.
posted by bfranklin at 11:50 AM on April 26, 2011


About 80% of the arguments in here can be defused by saying "cereal is the name of the grain/flake. The serving suggestion most people use to eat cereal is to pour some quantity of milk over it. This dish could be fairly called 'cereal soup'; in broad usage we just call that dish 'cereal' for the same reason that when we eat almonds we don't call them 'shelled almonds' -- it's shorter and simpler and everybody knows what we're talking about".

But that said I think the real answer is meese's Wittgenstein argument. Cereal isn't soup. Not for any rigid analytical reasons, but just because it's not something we would call soup. It's not the way the word "soup" is used. That might not be intellectually satisfying, but elegance and rigorous satisfaction aren't necessary conditions of successful philosophy arguments.
posted by penduluum at 11:52 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cereal in liquid could be categorized as soup (I think), but is unlikely to be referred to as soup in common usage. Just as, the OP mentioned tomato as fruit, but not referred to as such.

Soup is a liquid dish. Typically made by cooking other ingredients with the liquid, but not always so 9as others have already notes).

Cereal in sufficient liquid is a soup. Cereal eaten without liquid is not.
posted by edgeways at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


[It is cortex's birthday, please email your jokes directly to him as they will be deleted from this thread. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gazpacho is made from mostly raw ingredients, I agree. Almost all recipes call for tomato juice, which is cooked.

You're doing it wrong. Use fresh tomatoes.
posted by ixohoxi at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2011


Why not put your Frosted Flakes in this:

MILK SOUP THE DUTCH WAY

Take a quart of milk, boil it with cinnamon and moist sugar; put sippets in the dish, pour the milk over it, and set it over a charcoal fire to simmer, till the bread is soft. Take the yolks of two eggs, beat them up, and mix it with a little of the milk, and throw it in; mix all together, and send it up to table.

Yeah!! A "sippet" is "a small piece of bread or toast, used to dip into soup or sauce or as a garnish", so I don't see why that wouldn't work. Maybe granola clusters or cinnamon grahams would work better.

I can't believe nobody's mentioned the fact that a Bloody Mary has tomato juice AND beef consomme in it. Sounds like alcoholic soup to me. On second thought, maybe my gazpacho needs a couple of shots of vodka.

"Canned corn dumped in a bowl becomes corn soup."

No, but if you strain out the corn and season the liquid, it's a kind of pot likker.
posted by aquafortis at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


paulsc has is right:

The word "porridge" describes a cereal or grain (and perhaps other ingredients like salt, flavorings, raisins, currants, berries, or or other fruit/nuts/sweetners) cooked in water, milk, or broth.

Also, look at Wikipedia's page on breakfast cereal: "Some cereals, such as oatmeal, may be served hot as porridge."

So if you want to classify cold cereal in milk as a type of cuisine, it's an uncooked porridge.
posted by Anephim at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2011


That's "paulsc has is right."
posted by Anephim at 12:55 PM on April 26, 2011


Soup can have grains in it, in can be made with milk, it can be hot or cold.

I think for me the dividing line (or, one dividing line) is that cereal is often sweet, but soup is savory. Cereal is never salty, or garlicky, or cheesy. But soup can be any of those. Soup can sometimes be a little sweet (e.g. corn chowder), but any soup I can think of can have salt and/or pepper added to it without making it gross.

And in my mind, ice cream soup is not really soup. Like a knuckle sandwich isn't really a sandwich.
posted by pompelmo at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cereal is never salty, or garlicky, or cheesy.

Grits are cereal, and they are often both salty and cheesy. I've never put garlic on my grits, but I can imagine that if someone did, the grits would not cease to be cereal.
posted by The World Famous at 1:18 PM on April 26, 2011


Grits are a cereal in the sense that they're a grain, but they're not the same as cold breakfast cereal like Froot Loops.
posted by electroboy at 1:33 PM on April 26, 2011


What about fruit soup pompelmo? Or dessert soup?
posted by Carillon at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2011


What about a glass of water with a rock in it? At some point the definition of what a word is revolves around how your peers use that word and understand the word to be meant. The words fruit and vegetable have technical meanings that have to do with how the plants reproduce and bla bla, but the words soup and cereal have no such scientific breakdown.

I'm sure there are ways you could define soup so that cereal fell within that definition. I'm also certain that outside of thought experiments no one from within your own culture would confuse the two. People from outside the culture might. You can find barley in both soup and porridge but people within the culture always know which is which, to the best of my knowledge.

Also just like in the bog-standard "the morning star is the evening star" example (both are Venus but there are different implications wrapped up in those two words. See also groundhog/woodchuck), having cereal for dinner or soup for breakfast doesn't turn one into the other; the context in which you make, prepare, serve and eat the thing is deterministic into what the thing is.
posted by jessamyn at 1:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


What about a glass of water with a rock in it?

Technically, that's all that's required for Stone Soup, where the moral of the story is that if you relentlessly call a thing soup, the masses will eventually acquiesce.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


In your question, you said "The basic proprieties of soup is that it is one or more ingredients prepared and served in a liquid"

That defines what soup is. It does not, as you are trying to do, define what is soup.

In other words, the fact that all x are y does not imply that all y are x.
posted by rocket88 at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to Merriam-Webster, soup is just some stuff in a liquid. So, cereal by itself is not a soup, but cereal in milk definitely is.

Sort of like how a hot dog in a bun is a kind of sandwich, it may be true, but it's not a useful way to talk about it.
posted by cmoj at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a discussion I've had with a Chinese friend in Chinese restaurants, where he has been known to want both soup and congee. To me, congee is like soup, but to him it's quite distinct and having it at the same meal as soup does not seem weird. So I think these are lines that are drawn somewhat differently depending on culture.
posted by zadcat at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2011


So, if you make Gazpacho without Tomato juice, does that make it salad? lol
posted by annsunny at 3:04 PM on April 26, 2011


nthing the ambiguity between the method of preparation (making soup), the ingredient-for-whole-thing (meanings of 'cereal') and the finished product (soup, cereal). All that said, it should be pointed out that there is even more stuff to ponder here, such as...when cereal sits for a while (or has a high-liquid-to-cereal(heh)-ratio), we tend to refer to it as 'soupy'. Also, soup has its own aptly-named spoon...as does cereal.

For other, similar food-related taxonomy and nomenclature debates, see 'bread', 'meat' and 'loaf'.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:38 PM on April 26, 2011


Dessert soup is soup in exactly the same way that dessert pizza is pizza. IOW, it's not; it is called that solely as an analogue.
posted by KathrynT at 4:51 PM on April 26, 2011


Ok, I haven't read through all the answers, but I am generally ok with eating leftover soup. In fact, I often make a large batch of it and keep it in the fridge, eating some throughout the week. The same cannot be said for cereal with milk.
posted by theRussian at 7:35 PM on April 26, 2011


Momofuko has a cereal-milk ice cream, which in itself provides a useful gloss: cereal (short for breakfast cereal) is the dry stuff over which we pour milk. If strained, this provides a "cereal milk" (parallel to "soy milk, perhaps), which could be transformed into something recognizable as "soup" or "ice cream."

The fancy-food tendency to name things unexpectedly (to call an infused cocktail, for instance, a "soup") also illuminates the way "soup" is a relatively stable category; that stability gives it traction to evoke a particular kind of interest when, for example, we serve cornflakes and milk and call it "cereal soup."
posted by Mngo at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2011


Cereal is not a soup. But if you wanted to argue that it was, I think an argument might be this:

1. For one way of categorizing, there are two types of cereal: Hot and cold.

2. Cold cereal can have a primary ingredient of corn, rice, wheat, oats, etc.
Hot cereal can have a primary ingredient of corn, rice, wheat, oats, etc.

3. Sometimes, cold cereal is called "ready to eat" cereal.
Sometimes, hot cereal is called "porridge."

4. Types of porridge include cornmeal mush, cream of rice, cream of wheat, oatmeal. And pease porridge (as in pease porridge hot). potato porridge, and congee.
posted by Houstonian at 6:49 PM on May 4, 2011


No, because cereal pretty much means milk + crunchy grain things. Can you think of any soup (other than potentially cereal) that is comprised of milk + crunchy grain things? No? Then cereal is not a soup.

QED.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:55 PM on May 6, 2011


« Older Will it be too cold to stay in...   |  A friend of mine put me in tou... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.