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Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5775

Ask the Rabbi: Beracha on Pureed Vegetable Soup

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: I read your recent response about the beracha on the broth of vegetable soup. Is the halacha any different for pureed vegetable soup?

 

Answer: You will remember that according to most fundamental approaches, based on the gemara (Berachot 39a), the beracha on the clear broth of vegetable soup is Borei Pri Ha’adama. On the other hand, there are enough factors against saying Ha’adama to convince most contemporary poskim to prefer Shehakol. Pureed soup shares certain factors, but other factors point in different directions.

We dealt with an apparent contradiction with the gemara (ibid. 38a) that says that the beracha on most fruit juices is Shehakol. Another reason to not make Ha’adama on vegetable soup broth is the contention of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others that these soups often lack sufficient vegetable taste to justify it. These issues do not apply to pureed soup because one is not consuming just the juice/broth but the whole essence and taste of the vegetables. 

However, in another way, the situation points more toward Shehakol than toward Ha’adama. We saw the Rosh (Shut 4:15) who says that the broth’s beracha is Ha’adama when and because it is normal for people to cook the vegetables to eat them. The broth is thus dependent on the vegetables, which generally exist even if one is eating only the broth. In this case, though, the vegetables cease to exist as a solid, clearly recognizable entity. V’zot Haberacha (p. 404) entertains the possibility that the beracha should be determined as Ha’adama when it was cooked, before it was pureed. However, he concludes that we follow the form in which it is eaten, certainly when the intention when cooking it was to puree it before eating. Since the soup is actually a semi-liquefied form of mashed vegetables, it is necessary to determine what the beracha is on mashed vegetables.

The gemara (Berachot 38a) says that when one takes dates and crushes them into terima, their beracha remains Borei Pri Ha’etz. What is terima? The Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 202:7) say it is totally crushed to the point that it is “like dough,” and yet the beracha is unchanged. The same should apparently apply to a mashed vegetable. On the other hand, Rashi (ad loc.) says that terima is only partially crushed, and based on this, the Terumat Hadeshen (29) and Rama (OC 202:7) say that mashed fruit (and presumably vegetables) should get the safer beracha of Shehakol. This does not necessarily turn into a clear machloket between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, as the Rama says that if one recited the beracha of the fruit/vegetable he can assume he was yotzei. Sephardi poskim also disagree whether to follow the Shulchan Aruch or to also make the safer Shehakol in light of this machloket Rishonim (see V’zot Haberacha, p. 99, Birkat Hashem 7:26-29).

Based on the above, we should, on the practical level, distinguish between different levels of puree. If the vegetables are pulverized to the point that there are no or few pieces of discernable vegetables, even if the soup is thick, then the more accepted beracha is Shehakol. However, if the soup is lumpy, then the beracha should be Ha’adama (V’ten Beracha (Bodner), p. 434). This distinction is similar to what many say regarding types of apple sauce and peanut butter. Those who make Ha’adama even for smooth pureed soup have what to rely upon, especially considering the fact that the stronger fundamental opinion regarding mashed potatoes, even if this not usually suggested, is to recite Ha’adama (see Mishna Berura 202:42).

Another logical distinction within the case of totally crushed vegetables is whether they are still recognizable based on their characteristics, which is a major reason to warrant Ha’adama (see Birkat Hashem, p. 404-6). It would seem then that if the pureed soup has several vegetables that form its basis, then it is more difficult to recognize its component parts and harder to justify reciting Ha’adama unless there are many small pieces.

 

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