What is Soup?

Soup is an open source, collaborative project that aims to capture the diversity of the human experience using literature, art, film, computer programming, and other accessible media.

What makes it unique? Unlike Snapchat, which is a snapshot of one’s physical features, Soup is a snapshot of one’s experience as a human being. But perhaps more importantly, Soup unites its diversity around one shared experience to which everyone can relate: the experience of eating a single bowl of soup.

Soup provides a playground to experiment with literary and artistic form and ideas about which you’re curious. It’s about removing the superficial veils which would have previously concealed the individual and offering a setting to connect meaningfully with others in an exciting way. If you need a break from the day-to-day, Soup is a great way to relax and enjoy the introspective power of creative work.

Contributing to Soup

Soup is for everyone. Anyone can contribute. Whether you’re a high schooler or a middle aged professional, whether you love avante-garde literature or prefer traditional painting, whether you’re more inclined to analytical styles or more fictional creations, you can be part of the movement.

How do you contribute? Simply create anything that can be viewed digitally–prose, poetry, a photo or 3D model of a sculpture, a drawing or painting, some photography, a piece of music, a video, or something entirely different–and use our Google Form to submit your piece. Remember, there are no limits on what you can create! Please keep the content clean (must be “safe for work”–no sexual content), and make sure it is somehow related to a bowl of soup.

Questions? Send them to Jessie Mindel via the Contact page. I’m glad to answer any concerns or curiosities you may have.

The Original Story

Before its transformation into an online project, Soup was the literary summer fantasy of a few high school students.

During Stanford Online High School’s “Summer at Stanford” program, on the way back from a class, I was speaking with a few friends, recounting the story of a previous teacher. The teacher had helped us analyze Aristotle’s Poetics, an otherwise dense essay explaining the philosophy behind poetry and how to create balanced characters.

“You can’t have a character that’s too perfect–that’s not relatable. So your character can’t be a god,” I explained, “But you can’t have your character be too mundane, either.” My friends nodded in understanding.

“For example,” I continued, “you can’t write in a character who goes on for 800 pages eating a single bowl of soup.” I had meant to say “cereal” rather than “soup,” as my teacher had recounted it a year before. But it was this simple Freudian slip that gave birth to an exciting and novel idea. It was not long before I suggested that in an attempt to defy modern literary standards, we actually go about writing the behemoth of a novel, finding some innovative way to make 800 pages about one character eating one bowl of soup interesting. We set about solving the problem, deciding that we could approach the bowl of soup from scientific, fictional, and philosophical angles, allowing us to extend the simple premise into a genuinely enjoyable read.

The rest of the two-week summer program passed us by quickly, but I was still determined when school started. However, we never gained much momentum, and so, as design thinking methodology would suggest, I failed forward. I knew that the original idea wouldn’t work, so I used iterative design, and only a few months later, Soup as we now know it had become a reality, reengineered as a social media network made to promote meaningful communication.

What’s in store for the future?

In the coming months, a more feature-rich, carefully designed website will be created for the project, eventually concluding in the development of a functional, innovative social media platform. The platform will help members to find inspiration for future Soup pieces, embark on dynamically curated “adventures” that feature related pieces based on criteria that the user inputs, and more. The new website will eventually also feature a fun game called the Exquisite Bowl, in which players will take turns writing sentences, small snippets of music, or doodles to collaboratively create a story in the spur of the moment–the catch is that they cannot see any part of the story but the last piece of content that was added.

We have even more exciting plans for the future, but for the time being, the most exciting part of this project is our growing community. It is you all who make this possible–thank you for joining in the fun and contributing to the infinite possibilities for this important project.