NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, January 18, 2016, 12:37 PM
Here’s author Dawn Lerman as a tween with her then-fat dad, Al, who later created the slogan, “Soup is good food” for Campbell’s.
We all know that soup is good food. But do you know why we know it? You can thank my father.
In 1975, my dad — then a top executive at McCann Erickson — was handed the ultimate American assignment: Get Campbell’s Soup to start selling again.
The company’s existing campaign — “Mm-Mm Good” — was no longer generating enough sales, so my dad had to create a new slogan.
Some background: My dad was heavy. Really heavy. At his peak, he tipped the scales at 450 pounds. I wrote about him in my just-published memoir, “My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love and Family, With Recipes.”
The book is partly about how my family rose and fell on every one of my father’s weight fluctuations as he tried every diet known to man.
But one diet that really helped him was his mother’s. That would be my paternal grandmother, Mary. She was the one who coined the term “Soup is good food” as part of her loving approach to meals.
Meanwhile, my maternal grandmother, Beauty, used to say she could find her religion in a bowl of matzo ball broth. My life was certainly transformed cooking with her at age 3 — throwing in “a bissell of this and a bissell of that,” creating the most fragrant stone soup loaded with vegetables, and beef bones, or whatever she had on hand. I felt empowered cooking with her.
But my family moved to Manhattan and away from Beauty when I was 9 so that Dad could join the McCann Erickson ad agency. Even as a tween, I fell in love with the city and its health food stores. My mission was to cook my grandmothers’ recipes — but in a way that could keep my overweight, cancer-ridden father healthy and satisfied.
So in honor of my dad, his Campbell’s campaign and national soup month, I present this miso soup — a vegetarian twist on his mother’s classic mushroom barley soup.
Bubbe Mary said the smell of this rich broth brought my dad back to life after fat-shaming bullies beat him up into a coma in sixth grade.
“Eat your soup,” she said to her convalescing son in a thick Yiddish accent. “It’s good food.”
Many years have passed, and my dad is now cancer free, vegan, and 210 pounds. And I am a holistic nutritionist and cooking teacher.
Recipe: Healing Miso Soup
- Serves: 8
- Prep Time: 2 hr(s) 0 min(s)
1 fresh organic ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 organic onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of ghee or oil of choice
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup sliced mixed raw mushrooms — shiitake, portabella, maitake
64 ounces water or vegetable broth
1 cup organic dried Shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound tofu, diced
1/4 cup organic miso paste
1 head of roasted garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 organic carrots, chopped
Salt to taste
In a stockpot, sauté the ginger and onion in the ghee until the onion just begins to sweat. Add the raw garlic and raw mushrooms, and cook till browned. Then add the water or broth to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Add the dried mushrooms, tofu, carrots and then lower the heat. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the shiitakes are fully reconstituted.
While the pot of mushrooms is simmering, ladle about 6 ounces of the broth into a separate bowl and add the miso paste to it, stirring until dissolved. Next, add the mashed roasted garlic to this mixture. Once thoroughly combined, add the garlic-miso mixture back into the pot and add salt to taste.Stir well and enjoy all the healing properties of this magic broth.