Letters: ‘I Had Minestrone Soup for Breakfast’

Readers discuss what they like to eat for their first meal of the day.

Todd Korol / Reuters

I Broke Breakfast

The American conception of breakfast is unnecessarily stringent, Amanda Mull argued last week: “There’s no good reason you can’t eat a chicken-parmesan hoagie for breakfast.”

The German beer soup Amanda Mull references as a regular on German breakfast tables after the Protestant Reformation is delicious and highly nutritious, and keeps you going all day. However it takes quite some time to prepare. Try this old recipe from 1800, which is really easy to cook:

1 liter of beer (thin, alcohol free, wheat, dark, blond, more or less hopped—whichever is at hand)
1/4 liter of (rather dry) white wine
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 bread rolls (white toast with a crust will do)

​​​​​​Cook the beer and wine together in a saucepan until frothy. Stir the three egg yolks with the sour cream and a little bit of the beer-wine mix. Next, add this mixture to the boiling beer. Bring down to a light simmer. Cut the rolls into small cubes and toast them in butter; add to the beer soup. Bring the soup to a boil and add sugar and cinnamon to your liking.

A strong slice of wholemeal or mixed bread on the side is delicious!


Gerhart Gross
Bad Wiessee, Germany

I very much enjoyed this article and sent it to my boyfriend. A big shock for him when we moved in together was my strong adherence to the idea of a breakfast salad: arugula, cheese, and two fried eggs when in a rush, with the potential for tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and really anything else when not. It has protein, fiber (Kellogg’s would perhaps approve), and the egg yolk is a fantastic dressing. He was formerly an adherent of the yogurt-with-granola school of thought. Now, a frequent deal during rainy mornings is that he’ll cook the eggs and veggies if I walk the dog!

We’ve both found a good breakfast salad to be key for keeping excess sugar out of our diets and making sure we get enough vegetables. It’s easier to have vegetables in the morning from your own fridge before you leave the house than to coordinate a transfer of an additional serving for lunch—and it sets your day on a good trajectory.

Rachel Price
Cambridge, Mass.

My mother was Pennsylvania German and she thought nothing of having peach pie for breakfast with milk poured over it. It confused my first-generation American father, who’d grown up surrounded by his Scottish family. Oatmeal was breakfast. Eggs were breakfast. Pie was not breakfast. My mother could have cared less and just kept on being herself her whole life.

Now that both of them are gone, I try to not beat myself up when I wake up, run through my possible choices for the morning—all good and tasty—but really just want a grilled cheese sandwich made with mild cheddar and extra sharp white on Alvarado sprouted bread.

Linda Robertson
Sebastopol, Calif.

Having lived in Asia and Europe, I can say unequivocally that American breakfast is king. In fact, it is the only scrap of pride I can cling to when my Japanese, Chinese, French, and other friends regularly disparage the low quality of American food. They are almost right. Many other cuisines are much healthier and more varied and refined than American food. But nobody does breakfast like we do. I can list dozens and dozens of possible morning options Americans can opt for. Yes, some are unhealthy (I’m looking at you, pancakes and syrup), but many are not, and the selection is heavenly. After more than a decade in Japan, I’d be happy to eat only Japanese food for lunch and dinner for the rest of my life (and be healthier for it). But pretty much the only eating experience I crave from home is a big breakfast at a diner. Nowhere else I’ve been even comes close in the morning.

With Trump, the endless War on Terror, and our hegemonic cultural exports—not to mention our notoriously bad food—it can be tough being an American abroad sometimes. Please don’t take away the one true shining point of greatness we have.

Carl Stimson
Helena, Mont.

Readers responded on Facebook:

Betsy Mayer Riser wrote: Yeah I kind of don’t get it. Something sweet and heavy to start the day? Puts me right back to sleep. I’ll just take my coffee, thanks.

Laura Hoglin wrote: That’s why “breakfast” for dinner is awesome, too!

Joe Pearman wrote: Bacon, eggs, grits, and fried potatoes. Milk and black coffee to drink. Absolutely unhealthy, but it starts the day off right.

Brian Potter wrote: The new breakfast is eat nothing and continue to fast until lunch.

Tess Moleski wrote: The other day I had liver pate and horseradish cheese on crackers and a banana.

Sylvia Mcmurtry wrote: Leftover pizza is the best.

Michael Lutz wrote: Next thing you’ll try to tell me I can sleep during the day if I want!

Maureen Falk wrote: I had minestrone soup for breakfast and will have steel cut oats with blueberries for lunch or eggs. I used to only eat cereal years ago but eventually I started eating what I wanted. The only thing I have to have is espresso in the morning!

Readers responded on Twitter: