Many times, I will gather the children on my lap for story time and we will read about a recipe the character’s are preparing. We created this recipe, Stone Soup, based on the book of the same title. I adapted and revised the story a bit because I think if you are going to write a story based on something to eat, it should have a recipe to go along with it.
Once Upon a Time…
Once there was a man and a woman on a journey. They had few possessions, and they carried them on foot as they walked through the land. They had a Bible, a wool blanket, a bar of soap (that never seemed to diminish), a knife for protection, a pewter fork, spoon, and bowl for each of them, a bag of salt, and a large cast-iron pot. Everywhere they traveled, they made many new friends, worked to earn wages for needed supplies, and then they would move on to the next town.
One day, they came upon quite an inhospitable town where no one would give them work or food to eat. They seemed to shut away their very kindness behind their barred doors and windows. It was such a town that this happy couple loved to meet; for it was here that God had the opportunity to work His miracles.
They found a spot outside of town and set up camp. Then they proceeded to gather wood for a fire, water for their pot and set the water to boil. A little girl walked past and was curious about what was cooking over the warm fire. “Stone Soup,” the man replied as he scrubbed a large stone from the creek bed and placed it into the pot. With a frown, the girl questioned him. “What is Stone Soup?” The man began to describe how delicious Stone Soup was and how amazing it would be when it was finished. The generous couple set out a place for the little girl and offered her a sample when it was finished. The little girl was quite curious for she had had soup many times before, but never Stone Soup.
The gentleman added how he wished he had an onion, some carrots, and celery to add to his soup. It would make it taste so much better. With that, the little girl sprang up. She exclaimed that she had a big, beautiful garden with many vegetables in it and there was plenty to share. If she was going to try the stone soup, she wanted it to be the best. With that, she ran home and fetched her vegetables.
Upon returning, a neighbor boy had followed, wondering why the girl was running so fast to the outside of town. He spied the couple and the little girl cutting up her vegetables and adding them to the pot as well as some dried herbs she had dried from her own herb garden. He too was curious at what was bubbling in the pot, for it was creating a marvelous, steamy fragrance that wafted into the air. Again, the couple invited the boy for a taste of Stone Soup when it was finished. “How can you have soup without any meat?” the boy replied. “I would not eat soup without meat. My father raises cattle on the hill. I am sure my father will not mind me bringing at least a meaty marrow bone or two to share and maybe a pound of some ground beef or sausage.” And off he went.
The woman carefully and intentionally set out the blanket and her bowls and spoons. Each child also brought with them a bowl and spoon and set it out eagerly awaiting this curious fare, Stone Soup.
Soon after, four children happened upon their little picnic. They too saw the boiling pot and the empty bowls set out. The two children eagerly invited the other four children to come and have a bowl of delicious Stone Soup with them when it was done. Excitedly, the children shared with the other children what they had brought and added to the pot. This started the minds of the four children spinning with ideas of what they could bring to share. One happily said she could bring some lentils. They had quite a bumper crop this year. The other, boasted of her canned tomatoes they had canned from the summer crop. Still another thought about some green beans, zucchini, potatoes, and kale he could add. The last child, deep in thought, could only think of maybe bringing a loaf of sourdough bread and a crock of butter and maybe a wedge of parmesan to eat with the soup. With much joy, the children took off running to fetch their additions and bowls and spoons.
Soon all was added to the pot and the smell was divine. It filtered through the town streets, drawing all who smelled its delightful fragrance. As the other villagers came to the outskirts of town, they saw quite a sight. Blankets and bowls and spoons, flowers in ceramic pots placed all over the camp, and children playing their instruments as they waited for their soup.
The couple warmly invited the other villagers to join in the feast. What started as a cast iron pot, some water, and a stone turned into a delightful feast for the senses. After giving thanks, the villagers took delight in eating this wonderful new Stone Soup, realizing the joys of opening not only their cupboards and gardens but their hearts as well. All the families had greedily held on to what they had grown or raised without sharing. In this, they had never tasted what others had specialized in. They had never learned the joy of community. It kept them closed and shallow. But now, they realized what beauty they could create when they all came together and shared as one.
As the night fell, and people gathered up their things, they left smiling, holding hands, and singing. Night came with its cool blanket and the stars gave their soothing glow. The moon smiled down and the man and the woman curled up together in their warm, wool blanket and thanked God for their full day. They had done what they were called to do, and in the early morning, they would pack up their things and move on to the next town. There were many people to meet, and if needed, more Stone Soup to prepare.
Adapted from the original Stone Soup written by Ann McGovern
Preparing the Soup
Serves: a whole village
Time: as much time as it takes
Roasting and Preparing the Base Stock
Drizzle 1 T olive oil on 2 meaty beef marrow bones (preferably raised on grass and sunshine). Generously season with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degree Fahrenheit in the oven for 45 minutes.
When your bones are roasted, add them, along with any juicy bits from the roasting pan, to a large pot or dutch oven. Add in a bay leaf and fill with enough filtered water to cover the bones and simmer until meat is tender (about 4-6 hours). When your meat is tender, remove the meat and bones. Pick the meat off the bones and set aside. Discard the bones, except one, or add to a freezer soup scrap bag (see note below). This bone will be your stone for the Stone Soup.
Meanwhile, In 2 tablespoons olive oil, sauté and set aside:
2 Onions (diced)
3 Celery Stalks (diced)
4 Carrots (diced)
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
Sauté and Set Aside:
1 lb each ground beef and Italian sausage; remove fat. Add the meat from the bones to this mixture.
Once the base is prepared, add to the broth and Simmer for 15 Minutes:
2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
8 cups already prepared beef stock
2 cups red wine (for the adventurous)
1- 28oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
Remove any Soup Scum that Rises to the Surface then Add:
The sautéed onion, celery, carrot, garlic mixture, and the meat that was set aside.
2 cups green beans, cut into bite size pieces. You can add frozen green beans if you like. I like to use a whole small bag of Haricot Verts from Trader Joes.
3 potatoes (diced)
3 zucchini (diced)
3 cups of bite sized kale leaves
Simmer until tender and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with warm sourdough bread slathered in butter and a reading of the story, Stone Soup
- 2 roasted beef marrow bones (preferrabley grass fed and raised in the sunshine) This is your stone.
- Enough filtered water to cover the bones.
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 T olive oil (divided between roasting bones and sautéing veggies)
- 2 yellow onions (diced)
- 3 celery stalks (diced)
- 4 carrots (diced)
- 4 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 pound each ground beef and mild Italian sausage
- 2 cups red lentils
- 8 cups already prepared beef stock
- 2 cups red wine (for the adventurous)
- 1 -28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 cups green beans cut into bite sized pieces. You can use frozen green beans. I like the small bag of fresh Haricots Verts from Trader Joes.
- 3 potatoes (diced)
- 3 small zucchini (cut into bite sized pieces)
- 3 cups kale (chopped into bite sized pieces)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Drizzle 2 meaty marrow bones with 2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the overn at 400 degrees Farenheit for 45 minutes.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, add your roasted bones as well as any juicy bits from the roasting pan into the pot.
- Add filtered water until it covers the bones and your bay leaf and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 4-6 hours or until meat on the bones is tender. You could add vegetables and a bouquet garni to this stock pot at this point if you want to prepare a flavorful broth. I ususally have 2 qts of already prepared beef stock that I add to this recipe which gives the soup a rich flavor. The purpose of roasting and simmering the meaty marrow bones is one, to add more flavor and two, to prepare the meat.
- Make sure and skim off the top for any fat and soup scum and discard. Soup scum, if not removed, will add an off flavor to your broth.
- When the meat is tender, remove the bones and pull off the meat. Set meat aside and add back in one bone. This is your stone for the Stone Soup.
- Meanwhile, in a saute pan in 2 T olive oil, saute onions, celery, carrots and garlic until fragrant and semi translucet. (chopped onion, celery, and carrots together is what the French call Mirepoix. You can find it already prepared in most grocery markets in the refrigerated section of your produce aisle. Sometimes in a pinch, I will purchase a container from my local Trader Joes.)
- Bring your broth back up to a rolling simmer and add in your lentils. Cook for about 15 minutes, removing any soup scum that gathers on the surface.
- Add your additional beef stock, red wine, and tomatoes.
- Add in your sauted mirepoix/garlic mixture.
- Finally, add in the rest of your vegetables (green beans, potatoes, zucchini, and kale) and meat you set aside earlier and simmer until tender.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve sprinkled with fresh grated parmesan cheese, warm crusty sourdough bread smothered in butter, along with the story, Stone Soup.
If you want to eliminate the first 5 steps of the recipe and just add already prepared beef stock, you could whip this dinner up in less than an hour, but I based this recipe on the story of Stone Soup. The point was in the preparing, gathering, and simmering for a day as it drew everyone into the recipe. It is a fun way to connect to those you love as well as your food source.
When I am cooking throughout the week, I collect vegetable scraps in a freezer bag such as carrot tops (not the green parts) and peelings, the center stalk of the celery including leaves and trimmings, onion, leek, scallions, shallot, or garlic trimmings, parsley leaves and stems, etc. You can also add any beef bones, chicken necks, backs, wings, or even feet (great for a gelatinous broth) that you may have saved. When I go to prepare my bone broth for the week, I just add my bag of scraps to it and begin the process all over again.
EnJOY this Other Story and Recipe: