There is a good reason why Oprah Winfrey's new cookbook starts out with 19 soup recipes

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There is a good reason why Oprah Winfrey‘s new cookbook starts out with 19 soup recipes.

Not only is it a nourishing meal for the Weight Watchers shareholder who displayed her 42.5 pound weight loss on this week’s cover of PEOPLE, but soup is a symbol of love for her.

In a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Winfrey says she first felt connected to soup while watchingepisodes of Lassie growing up.

“At the end of Lassie, there was a Campbell’s soup commercial where his mom would always say, ‘Timmy, come here!’” Winfrey says. “It was product placement, but I didn’t know that at the time. I actually thought, ‘Oh gosh, little white boys get soup from their moms.’ I really did. And I thought, gee, if my mom could only serve me soup … I associated that soup as a love thing.”

In her book, Food, Health, and Happiness, she writes, “All I knew for sure in those days was that my world would be perfect and we’d all live happily ever after as the credits rolled if my mom would ladle up a great big bowl of Campbell’s soup just for me.”

But Winfrey wasn’t that lucky. “My mother was a maid. After spending all day cleaning other people’s houses, tousling my braids and serving me soup with a smile was out of the question,” she says. “Even wishing such a thing was absurd.”

The media mogul goes on to explain sometimes even eating anything at all was out of reach: “My mom did the best she could do, but to this day I have clear memories of putting grape Kool-Aid on my cereal because we were too broke to buy milk,” she says. “The truth is, I remember times when we couldn’t afford any food.”

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  • Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Oprah’s Weight Loss Journey now on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) and at People.com/oprahweightloss. Go to People.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

Now, Winfrey, 62, says she ladles herself a big bowl of soup almost every day for lunch.

“How much do I believe in the power of soup? Well, consider that the very best food advice I have to share comes down to this: If you want to feel warm and well nourished—body and soul—find someone who looks like they could use a shot of goodness, and offer them a seat at your table, some easy conversation, and a simple bowl of soup,” she writes. “Because whoever you are, wherever you’re from, there’s no denying it: Soup is love.”