Just about year ago today I got a call from Janice. Now regular readers will know that I have a good relationship with Janice but my real history with Janice and Jim is with my buddy Jim I went to elementary school with and then high school, and after that toured around Europe with. So, getting a call from Janice instantly puts me on edge, sure that some terrible thing has happened to have her pick up the phone at a strategic hour to span a few time zones from Toronto to Malta. I was relieved to hear it was nothing like a health scare.

She was gearing up to make a nice meal for Jim and over a period of time heard a couple of people mention a soup that she had never heard of but thought it would be interesting to try as she and Jim really like soups of all kinds. I think it is the northern climate thing, where warm and cozy foods and beverages are comforting on a cool, cold or damp day. Soups, stews, hot chocolate, tea, coffee all do the job after digging cars out of snowbanks, shoveling snow, skating or skiing.

She had been all over the internet and could not find it and thought that with my history working in kitchens that I might have a lead on it or be able to reach out to some of my friends who are chefs, cooks, or otherwise working with food.

Square soup. Yeah, square soup. No, I had never heard of it but would put out some feelers with a bunch of chefs I had worked with over the years. Janice knew that having worked in the kitchens of cruise ships, I have a long list of friends all over the world who still work in kitchens, some as chefs, some as cooks, some bar and restaurant owners and some just working to survive. It took the better part of a day to get a number of responses as they reflected a lot of different time zones – Asia, America, New Zealand, Europe, Africa,  mid Pacific and mid Atlantic. Most of the responses were the same, (other than the personal updates) “nope – never heard of it”.

After spending a lot of time on this I was frustrated to not have something more definitive but sent her the two leads I had come up with.

The first was Square Meal Soup from a girl I had worked with who today was involved in a little restaurant in Reykjavik. It is a stew of meat and vegetables and potatoes or other root vegetables. It sounded like a pretty flavorful meal in a bowl and I have enjoyed some with these ingredients myself.  Nope that was not it.

My second one I knew would probably even be further off the mark: Square Grouper Soup. Now this one is not well known and is a local joke in the Florida Keys. When people would smuggle in bales of marijuana by boat and coast guard officials would come up to the “fishermen” to ask what they were catching they would often respond  Grouper, but then when the official would leave, joke about the bales of marijuana they had thrown overboard as Square Grouper. Square Grouper Soup is a soup made with seaweed. I know that does not sound appealing but there are some very tasty, and nutrient rich seaweeds out there, and when cooked in a soup all look like marijuana.

Nope that was not it she assured me.


She did however say she had a lead on it and would get back to me later in the day.

So just after midnight on April 1st she sent an email with the following recipe and picture and hoped I would enjoy my first day of April.



INGREDIENTS:   You can use almost any vegetable you like, as well as various meats, seasonings etc.  Really there are no limitations.

STYLE: Consommé’s, broths, cream soups, bisques, chowders…again,  its pretty wide open.

VESSEL: This is the key. In contrast to the traditional bowl, designed for a spoon to hug each arc of a conventional soup bowl,                             square soup needs to be served in a square container.




P.S. Just a few little shout-outs to:

Salute On The Beach,

1000 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, Florida  Salute! On The Beach | Key West, Florida (

Square Grouper Bar and Grill

22658 Overseas Hwy, Cudjoe Key, FL     

Matarkjallarinn  (The Food Cellar)  Adalstraeti 2, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Home – Food Cellar (