When I was little I was entranced by the tale of Stone Soup. The story, if you’ve never heard it, goes something like this…
A dusty, road-weary man reaches a small village where he knows no one. He has few belongings, just the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet and a large cooking pot. He goes to the town pump and fills his cooking pot, then plops down in the village square announcing “I think I’ll make my world famous stone soup. Oh boy is it good. I am so excited to eat it. All I need is water and a nice big stone, and I’ll heat me up some delicious soup.”
The locals are wary but interested. Times are hard in this village. No one wants to feed a vagrant, but if he can teach them how to make a satisfying meal out of rocks, they’re willing to learn. So they start to listen in, keeping their distance and trying to look busy.
The wanderer sees them starting to gather around the edges of the square. “Gotcha!” he thinks.
He finds a nice sized stone, about as big as his hand, rinses it off, and plops it in the pot. He makes a little fire, puts the pot over it, and as the water starts to heat he rhapsodizes about this soup.
“I once entertained a King,” he says, “with only this stone soup. Oh and an onion – this soup is even better with an onion.”
“An onion,” one of the eavesdroppers thinks. “I can spare that. If it’ll teach me how to make something from nothing.” So he brings the wanderer an onion, which makes its way into the pot.
“Fantastic,” says the wanderer. “This will be even better than the stone soup I prepared for the Maharaja. Oh now that was a soup, I tell ya. A soup anyone would love. Oh though I do believe that soup had a little bacon grease in it.”
“Bacon grease,” thinks another villager, “I can spare a little of that.” So she brings a small scoop of bacon grease to the pot and adds it in.
I’ll spare you the blow by blow account from here, we’re on internet time after all, but suffice it to say that before the soup was done, every villager had contributed some small thing – an egg, some greens, a little meat, some herbs – until it was soup that a king could, in fact, love.
This story has stayed with me my entire life. Like the soup itself, everyone brings something different to this tale. If you’re a socialist, it’s a heartwarming example of the many creating something better than the few. If you’re thrifty, it’s the dawn of pot luck dinners. If you’re a schemer, this is the playbook for getting others to do your work for you.
As an eater, my take-away is different. Soup Is Good! Eat more soup!
I was thinking of this the other day as the weather turned cold. Soup *is* good. I wanted soup. So I looked through my cupboards and threw together an ad-hoc Thai-inspired soup that would satisfy a Maharaja, I am sure. I didn’t measure; I just threw in some of this and some of that. Measurements were approximated after the fact. Use whatever you’ve got. Leave out stuff if you hate it. Throw in other stuff if you love it. I’m sure it’ll be good!
Sondra’s Stone Soup
What to use:
- ½ can Coconut milk
- 1 package of low-sodium Vegetable broth
- 3 Tbsp Fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp Lime juice from the little green plastic lime or the juice from ½ fresh lime or a few drops food-grade Lime essential oil
- 1 packet Stevia (replaces the brown sugar found in most Thai soups)
- 2 slivers of fresh ginger (I always have ginger!) or a few drops food-grade Ginger essential oil
- A chunk of frozen spinach (about 1 cup)
- ½ package of pre-prepared Trader Joe lentils (about 1 ½ cups)
- Optional – 4-5 pieces of dried Lemongrass (I had some dried on hand – fresh is better) or a few drops food-grade Lemongrass essential oil
If you decide to use essential oils, I recommend doTERRA.
What to do:
- Warm the coconut milk and veggie broth over Medium-High heat until boiling
- Reduce heat to Medium
- Add the fish sauce, lime juice, stevia, ginger, and lemongrass. Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes for the flavors to develop
- Add the spinach and lentils. Raise the heat back to Medium-High. Let bubble on the stove for about 10 minutes. House smells good, right? If it’s bubbling too much, reduce heat to Medium.
- Serve and enjoy!
Hope you like your first stone soup. Oh and don’t forget to take the stone out before you eat it.