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Featured Recipe

Fairy Tale Feasts
A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters
tales retold Jane Yolen, recipes Heidi E. Y. Stemple; illustrated by Phillippe Beha

8" x 10 1/4" • 200 pages • full-color illus.
ISBN 9781566566438 • hardback • $24.95 • READ MORE

Stone Soup

This is the Portuguese version of the ever-popular story about a traveller (or travellers) who gets a village to work together cooking a pot of soup. Usually the traveller is a weary soldier, a monk, or sometimes a woman.  In the earlier versions of the story, from France and Russia, the travellers are tricksters out to get themselves fed. But in later retellings, the emphasis is on teaching the villagers the benefits of cooperation.

    In old Portugal there lived a monk, a quiet monk, a man of faith and poverty, who wandered through the country villages in his brown monk's robe and cowl in search of his daily meal. He did this because of a promise he had made, a promise to God, which is not the kind of promise to break. Especially if one is a monk.

    One day he came to the village of Desperanza, as desperate as its name. He knocked on one door after another, but no one had so much as a crust of bread for him. Indeed, they shouted at him and cursed him and shut their doors in his face.

    Now the monk knew that he must go hungry, but hunger was nothing new for him. Worse, if he left because of the villagers' shouts and curses, he would leave them to their ignorance and anger, to their unkindness and greed.

    So at the last house, when he knocked on the door, he asked the woman of the house--before she could curse him--if he might borrow a pot for an hour or so. She was so astonished, she said yes. And more astonished still when he took a stone from under his brown robe and placed it in the pot.
    "What are you doing father?" she asked
    "I am making sopa de pedra, stone soup," he replied.
    "No one can make soup from a stone," the woman said.
    "With the right stone it is easy," said the monk. "Easy, and cheap, and delicious."
    Well, the woman had to watch as the monk went to her well and got water for the stone soup. "Easy, and cheap, and delicious," she whispered, though she lingered on the word cheap. "Just the thing!"

    The monk put the pot onto the fire and gazed into it. "Of course sopa de pedra is always better with a bit of onion."
    The woman nodded. "Any soup is better that way." And she went to her cold bin and brought him not one onion but two.

    Soon the woman's daughter came to visit and watched the making of stone soup. "Better yet, a bit of celery," she said and raced home for some. Along the way she told others about the monk and his soup from a stone.

    No one wanted to be left out: imagine, easy, cheap, and delicious soup made from a stone! (They all lingered on the word cheap.) And so this one brought some beans, and that one some beef, and another a turnip and a carrot, and another potatoes.

    Soon the aroma of the stone soup filled the little house.
    Surprise! There was enough soup for the entire village and, when he left to go on his way, the monk gave them the stone as a token of his gratitude. "For this stone will always make a good soup as long as you work on it together," he said.

    Do you not believe me? The stone still sits in a velvet-lined box in the village church, where once a year it is used to cook a splendid meal for all.

Stone Soup
Make it yourself or with your village. (Serves a family).

Equipment:

Large stock pot
Measuring cup
Sharp knife
Peeler
Cutting board
Garlic press (optional)

Ingredients:

1 rock (big enough not to be mistaken for food)
2 tbsp butter or oil

Group A vegetables:
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 onion
1 sweet pepper
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
5 or 6 mushrooms

Group B vegetables:
5 small potatoes
2 summer squash or zucchini

Group C Vegetables:
1 tomato
1 big handful of green beans
1 handful of parsley

6 cups of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Grated romano or parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Scrub and boil the rock, or clean and use one of the small potatoes for rocks. (They do taste better).
2. Wash and chop all the vegetables in groups A, B, and C.
3. Melt the butter in the stock pot.
4. Sauté group A vegetables for 15 minutes or until tender.
5. Add the vegetable stock and rock and bring to a boil.
6. Add group B vegetables and lower heat.
7. Boil for 2 minutes.
8. Add group C vegetables and cook for 10 minutes more.
9. Serve with grated cheese.

Variations: Throw a stone soup party: Ask each guest to bring his or her favorite vegetable and make the soup together. But remember to have back-ups in case everyone brings carrots.





 





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