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Monday, June 29, 2009

Cooking Village - Stone Cold Soup

How I loved watching Land of the Lost when I was a kid back in the 70’s. The morning after a sleepover, seems my cousin and I couldn’t wait to glue ourselves to the t.v. on a Saturday and linger in our pajamas, watching the Sid and Marty Krofft Show. Now that LOTL has made it to the big screen after all these years with a movie version starring Will Ferrell, I was curious as to how the Styrofoam caves and stop-time dinosaurs in the original series could possibly stand up to the CGI technology of today. Well, before I could make any judgments, I revisited the series on DVD and suddenly I found myself less interested in any special effects and rather more charmed by its simplicity, particularly an episode where Dr. Rick Marshall and his children, Will and Holly, were at odds as to what to have for dinner, rations being somewhat scarce. Who can’t appreciate that these days? The good Dr. set out to make Stone Soup by soaking a rock in a pot of brimming water. His churlish children, lacking imagination, balked that the soup only tasted like hot water: it’s so often easier to complain than to help, isn’t it? But before long Will and Holly rallied, venturing out to find some onions and potatoes to add to the pot and wrestling with some Sleestaks in the bargain for some cakes of salt to round it all off.

This got me thinking of another page from my childhood: the classic story Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, which I also grew up loving, where a troop of soldiers made the dish with few ingredients for a village during an apparent wartime in an unnamed town. This resulted in a shared conviviality that made a wonderfully imaginative meal for the villagers as well as a lasting impression on me. I recently discovered there is an actual recipe for Stone Soup, not wrought from a writer’s imagination, but from Portugal’s Ribatejo province. There are no stones in it however, just a lot of smoked sausage, kidney beans and cabbage in a good amount of chicken stock with some carrots, turnips, onions, garlic and leeks thrown in.

So what of all this sharing and helping each other out today? As we are in the midst of summer, I’ve turned fruit-forward in my thinking and in turn, thought of a communal Summer Stone Soup! As you decide which guests to phone or text, remove any remaining seeds from a gigantic, seedless ripe watermelon and puree the pure essence of summer in a blender. Invite a friend who will bring a crisp white wine, and add a few tablespoons into the mix. Ask a neighbor delighted to add some juice of a lemon and yet another to toss in some hulled strawberries for a thicker puree. Now, pulse until a pleasant consistency is achieved. Chill while sharing the remaining wine and when serving the soup, make sure someone else has also brought some fresh mint for a chopped garnish.

Almost any ingredient that summer allows will do, and when shared with friends—what a wild way to go from soup—to nuts!

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