Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stone Soup

 Stone Soup is a traditional folk story, and in various cultures, you can find it as "axe soup," "button soup," or "nail soup."  I've chosen to write about the version written by Marcia Brown, which was a Caldecott Honor book in 1947. (In the interest of honesty, I think I should note that, while the story itself is good, the images are not to my personal taste.)

In Ms. Brown's version, the story goes like this (I'm paraphrasing, of course):
Three tired soldiers were walking home from the wars, and were very tired and very hungry - they hadn't eaten in days.  They came upon a village, and begged for some food and shelter, but the peasants were wary of strangers, and had hidden all their food away.  When the soldiers asked around, they were told that there just wasn't anything left.  "Sorry!" they said.  "We gave everything extra we had to the soldiers who came before you, and all our beds are full of people already, and there's nothing left anywhere, so you have to leave now.  Too bad!"  Then they stood around and looked as hungry as they could.

The soldiers talked to eachother a bit, and told the townspeople, "we had no idea that nobody had any food.  What a sorry state of affairs!  We'll have to make stone soup and feed you all.  Um... do you have a really big pot we can borrow?"   The townspeople were amazed.  Make soup out of stones?!  That would be a wonderful skill to learn!  Of course the soldiers could borrow a pot!  The town's largest cooking pot was set over a fire, and in went the stones and plenty of water. 

So the soldiers stirred the stone soup, and one turned to the others.  "It's a shame nobody has any salt and pepper," he said.  "Stone soup is always better with salt and pepper."  "Well...." said a townsperson.  "I suppose I might have a bit I can spare.  And in it went.

"This is good," one soldier said.  "But it's a shame there aren't any carrots around.  Stone soup is awesome with carrots."  "I might have a carrot or two," said a peasant.  He dug up a few and dumped them in.  Another peasant was able to scare up a cabbage or two, while another had a few extra potatoes.  And so on, and so on, until the pot was full and the soup was ready.

A great table was set, and everyone sat down and enjoyed the soup and was amazed that the soup had been made from water and just a few stones.

I always liked this story because it's about what great things can happen when people pitch in just a little bit.  This particular version also has a trio of very tired, and also sneaky, soldiers (who, by the way, each got a comfortable place to sleep).

In case you feel like making your own Stone Soup one day, here's my favorite recipe.  Feel free to throw in whatever veggies you might have laying around, too.

Stone Soup
1 pound ground beef
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 2oz. packet onion soup mix
1 16oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 15oz. can tomato sauce
3/4 cup dry elbow macaroni

1. Brown the ground beef in the bottom of your biggest soup pot.  Drain the fat.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, through the tomato sauce, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
3. Add the macaroni and cook until it's done (about 10 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

My version of stone soup is taken from an recipe (Hamburger Vegetable Soup).  This is pretty tasty with saltines or with crusty bread, and it also freezes well.  Of course, it's just a baseline recipe, and you can add whatever else you like in there as well.  This time, I added half a can of diced tomatoes, and it was pretty tasty.

1 comment:

  1. I kinda was hoping there would be an actual stone in your soup... :-( lol