If you read my last blog post you know we have been enjoying the traditional tale of Stone Soup, focusing on Jon J. Muth’s quiet and endearing retelling. Many times when G and I feature a story of the week together, I hone in on specific activities we may do together. This story provided us with an immediate and obvious one – make our own stone soup! Now, for those of you who love to collect new recipes, sadly, I cannot enrich your cookbook with a new one. In fact, I rarely cook like that. I tend to cook what is already in my pantry and fridge, sprinkling in this dried spice and that herb. In fact, the very nature of the story seems to suggest we not come to our great soup pot with expectations and specific cooking formulas, but rather with open hearts, attitudes of spontaneity, and a willingness to share.
G scrounged around in his room and toy bins for three round, smooth stones. Doesn’t every little boy already have some of these lying randomly about? He collected some small enough that fit easily in his two-fisted, preschool-sized grasp. Yes, indeed, we scrubbed them clean and dropped them into a small pot on the stovetop. In our large dutch oven we sautéed finely minced carrots, celery, garlic and onion in olive oil and let them become translucent. Just as in Muth’s story I allowed G to suggest random things to throw into our soup. Carrots. Mushrooms. Peppers. Chicken. Broth. Broccoli. I added in everything G suggested. Well, almost everything. I did convince him apples may not be the best match for our soup. He was very careful as he proudly chopped carrots all by himself. (He was heavily supervised!) We let it simmer and ate it in remembrance of the giving villagers.
It never ceases to amaze me how much more readily children will eat the food they prepare themselves. Fortunately, we had several of these little sweet peppers, because G ate five himself while slicing them for the soup.
Friends have told me of families who meet together at reunions to contribute by household to a great pot of stone soup. What a wonderful way to teach and illustrate the beauty of community, sharing and belonging! What an interesting idea for co-ops, play groups, neighborhood parties or church groups! If we all bring what we can, we can create something delicious and amazing. And it will be surprisingly different each time. Isn’t that the message of the tale?
Something magical began to happen among the villagers. As each person opened their heart to give, the next person gave even more. And as this happened, the soup grew richer and smelled more delicious.