Do you know the old fable, Stone Soup? It is a very old story, told in many countries throughout the world.¬† Although there are quite a few versions of this story, my favorite is the one in which a traveling monk is the main character. The way it goes is this: an old monk is crossing through the Algarve region of Portugal.¬† He is starving, weak and has nothing but a big pot and a few stones in his possession.¬† When he arrives in the village of Almeirim, he was given shelter for the night at an old farmhouse.
Although the monk was poor and starving, he was too proud to ask for food. Instead, he asked the wife if he might use their fire to make himself some soup and she agreed.¬† Putting the stones into the pot and pouring water over them, he placed the cauldron over the fire.
This puzzled the lady and when she questioned him he said, ‚ÄúJust be patient.‚Äù and went for a walk while waiting for the water to boil.¬† She felt sorry for him so while he was gone, she took what leftovers she had ‚Äì a scrap of meat, a carrot, a few turnips, etc. and added them to the stones.¬† This resulted in a hearty, delicious soup enjoyed by the old man and his hosts.
There are many variations to this story.¬† One version tells of three starving soldiers who come to a village, begging for food. When no one will share their meager harvest, the soldiers dupe them into contributing just one ingredient per person. (‚ÄúOh this soup is delicious! But you know what would make it even more savory? A turnip!‚Äù)¬† The story ends with a huge pot of soup that feeds everyone in town.¬† The object placed in the crock also varies from country to country: buttons, nails, an axe, wood.
Today, to welcome in the cooling weather, let‚Äôs travel to Portugal and indulge ourselves in a nice, comforting Sopa de Pedra (Stone Soup).
¬Ω lb chorizo, ham or bacon
2 large potatoes ‚Äì cubed and peeled
1 large onion
4 ribs of celery
4 chopped carrots
3 minced garlic cloves
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add meat and cook for two minutes.
Add vegetables and garlic – cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.¬† Lower heat and simmer for roughly 15 minutes.