There are questions that have troubled great thinkers since the beginning of time. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Do we have free will? But none have been more important than knowing whether or not cereal is a soup.
If you want to truly appreciate the art of the humble breakfast cereal, then understanding what it actually is, seems like the best place to start. Today, we’re going to present the arguments for and against the idea that cereal could be a soup and come to a definitive conclusion together.
What Exactly Is a Soup?
According to Wikipedia, “soup is a primarily liquid food, generally served warm or hot that is made by combining ingredients of meat or vegetables with stock, milk, or water.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines soup as “a liquid food, especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food.”
Most of us think of a warming, hearty broth when we hear the word soup, but these definitions appear to apply to a whole range of potential dishes.
So, Does Cereal Fit The Bill?
Cereal certainly matches a number of the requirements laid out in the Wikipedia definition. It’s a liquid-based food, it can be served warm or hot, and it’s made by combining ingredients with milk or water.
However, cereal is not made of meat or vegetables, which seems like a key part of the definition. Let’s take a closer look at some of the passionate arguments people are making one way or the other.
The Argument For Cereal Being a Soup
After a quick search on the internet, you’ll quickly find a number of soup lovers claiming cereal as one of their own. Their reasoning is pretty much the same as what we talked about above, and they would argue that cereal fits the definition perfectly.
The “pro cereal-is-a-soup” crew is quick to refute any arguments against their position. If you were to naively claim that cereal is cold and soup is hot, then you can expect an immediate lecture on the history of Spanish Gazpacho.
If you point out that cereal does not have a “base” like soup, then the counter-argument is likely to center around cream-based soups such as potato soup or clam chowder. Like cereal, these soups use milk as their starting point.
The Argument Against Cereal Being a Soup
Where there are people saying cereal is definitely a soup, there are always others fighting for the opposite. In their opinion, cereal simply does not match enough soup requirements to join the category.
Those who are against cereal being a soup will typically focus on the Merriam-Webster definition we discussed above. The main area of contention is the fact that cereal does not have a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base.
We’ve already seen that cereal soup advocates will bring up cream-based soups to counter this argument, but these soups don’t actually have a stock base. You can see here how the discussion can quickly get quite complicated.
Another problem people have with cereal being called a soup is that cereal is nearly always a sweet dish. Even healthy cereals such as raisin bran could never really be classed as being savory. However, bringing this point up isn’t particularly effective since sweetness isn’t mentioned in any soup definitions.
What’s The Verdict?
With compelling arguments from both sides, it’s a tough one to call. In many cases, it all comes down to the definition you use to define soup.
For the sake of argument, let’s use the official Merriam-Webster definition. With these guidelines in mind, we’d have to say that cereal is not a soup. Cereal’s lack of a simmering meat or vegetable base is a problem that we just can’t ignore.
Is Cereal a Salad?
If cereal isn’t a soup, then what is it exactly? Some people choose to label cereal as a salad since the definition is much more open-ended than soup. Merriam-Webster says that a salad is “a mixture of small pieces of food usually combined with a dressing.”
If the small pieces of food are cereal clusters and the dressing is milk, then it’s quite hard to argue that cereal doesn’t meet the salad requirements.
What About a Stew?
A stew is a close relative to soup, so maybe cereal could fit that mold. Let’s take a look at our trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary for the final time. According to M-W, a stew is “fish or meat usually with vegetables prepared by stewing.”
Clearly, a bowl of Lucky Charms doesn’t qualify here. If you want to put a label on your cereal, then it seems like “salad” is your safest bet!
What is cereal made out of?
Cereals are manufactured from grains such as corn, wheat, oats, and rice. The choice of cereal grains completely changes the taste and texture of the product, so it’s a process that manufacturers take very seriously.
Can I eat cereal warm?
Cereals can be broadly divided into two categories. You’ve got cold cereal (corn flakes, puffed oats) and hot cereals (hot wheat, oatmeal). The majority of cereal products on the market are designed to be eaten cold.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from eating a cold cereal with warm milk. In many cases, this can be super delicious.
What are some other uses for cereal?
Breakfast cereal doesn’t just have to be something that you eat with milk in the mornings. They’re great for baking and can even be used in regular cooking too. For example, one of our favorite uses for corn flakes is as a crispy coating for chicken and vegetables.
Is cereal eaten around the world?
Cereal is a cultural phenomenon all over the world. Although America is the biggest consumer of cereal by quite some way, you can find cereal lining the shelves of supermarkets in every corner of the globe.