Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stone Soup

I think most everyone knows the story of Stone Soup. It is an old fable that has been retold and reinterpreted many, many times. The first time I heard it, the protagonist was described as an old woman instead of a couple of hungry travelers. I was spellbound. Listening to the beauty of the clever story, how this old woman convinces the villagers to contribute to her stone soup. How all the people who did not have so much on their own came together to make something wonderful. How everyone has something to contribute. How soup was MAGIC because it made water into food.

Perhaps because we didn't have a lot when I was young, I thought the idea of finding something from practically nothing was amazing. I liked the idea that things that looked worthless apart could together be useful and valued. That when people work together on a big problem, even on something that seems enormous and insurmountable (like hunger), it becomes smaller and more manageable. As a child, I thought Stone Soup was BRILLIANT. I still do.

All this is by way of saying that I think that fable led me to my love of cooking and, more importantly, to a lifelong, deep-seated love of soup. I think of it as food that nourishes the soul as well as the body. I have made some of my best soups a'la the Stone Soup method - by rooting around and figuring out what I already had in the pantry. When I am sad or tired or the world is just a leetle more than I am up for, thankyouverymuch, I make soup. I go through a mental list of ingredients I have at home. I make a shopping list. I go to the store and buy the things I need. I go home and scrub my kitchen till it gleams (because I like to make soup - a time consuming ritual for me - in a spotless kitchen). And then I do my thing.

It makes me slow down because my best soups have long cooking times. It's meditative. It's a healing process. It reminds me that everything doesn't have to be hard or complicated. It's like putting together bits and pieces and making something nourishing somehow reminds me that there is good in the world amidst all the ugly bits.

The world hasn't been so great lately.

Tonight I'm making soup.

If you also love soup, I reccommend checking out the Soup Peddler. His book has suggestions for throwing Stone Soup parties (a brilliant idea that is catching on). The book and website also contain his story - which is an inspiration to people looking for their place in life as well as for lovers of soup.

Oh, and there's also this:

My little sister's very fond of The Mighty Boosh... I am not particularly familiar but I figure anyone who writes a silly song about soup is ok in my book.


  1. I'm a HUGE fan of the Boosh. They're so wonderfully ridiculous.

  2. I'm a soup lover, too. One of my favorite comforting foods.

  3. And Marisa is right, some of her best creations have come from "what ever is laying around".

    As much as i love reading what you write my dear, i'm reminded how different we can be. Because the idea of cooking for hours sounds absolutly dreadful to me. I think i'd rather clean my house from top to bottom than spend more than 3 min at the microwave just for soup. :P