Stone soup is a great meal for those on a budget, although it is a dish that must be made as a community effort. In villages where food is scarce stone soup may be one option for those craving a hot meal. Its origins date back to a fable, in which stone soup was invented as a way of encouraging sharing by neighbors who were not inclined to do so. Today, the concept of stone soup shows the value and effectiveness of friendship and teamwork.
Start with a large caldron (or pot, since caldrons aren't as commonplace as they once were).
Fill the caldron/pot with water and add one large stone. It is very important not to add more than one stone, as it will affect the flavor of the broth. Since the stone is used as the base for the broth and should not be eaten, it should be large enough that it will not accidentally be swallowed. Caution: As with all vegetables, wash and rinse the stone thoroughly before cooking. It is not necessary or desirable to peel or dice the stone.
Bring the water and stone to a boil.
Salt to taste.
Request that each neighbor or friend bring one vegetable to contribute. If neighbors cannot be different vegetables an alternative is for several neighbors to contribute one each of the same type of vegetable.
Neighbors wishing to contribute legumes should be encouraged to do so.
Meat or poultry is optional, but if someone wishes to contribute meat or poultry only one type should be used. Cook all meat or poultry before adding to the soup.
Reduce the flame to low, and continue cooking at a low boil until the ingredients have sufficiently flavored the broth. For a richer, thicker, broth cook for a longer time.
When cooking has been completed the stone may be removed with a sturdy ladle, being careful not to allow it to drop back into the soup and cause splashing of hot broth.
For those times when the community effort is less important, a short-cut method to quick-and-easy stone soup would be to buy a can of soup at your local supermarket and throw a rock in it (being careful, of course, to throw the rock in before the soup has been heated to a boil).
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