As I have talked about before, my lovely Karol really enjoys cabbage. So to please her I made Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls a few weeks ago when the boys were visiting their dad because the Universe knows, there is no way they would eat food with cabbage in it….sigh…..
When I made the cabbage rolls recipe, I only used half of the head of cabbage so I told her I would make some cabbage soup. I was intrigued by some soup I had when I visited my mother during Thanksgiving, and hers had cabbage in it. I enjoyed it and thought Karol would too. As I looked over the recipe my mother gave me, I thought, “hmmmm, I bet I could change this up some.” I like to experiment in the kitchen, and really I think just taking stuff out of the refrigerator and throwing it together in a somewhat coherent fashion to make something yummy is fun, and challenging to boot.
Have I ever mentioned that in my youth I dreamed of being a chef?? For some reason my father dissuaded me. He said it would be difficult for me because chefs had to lift really big heavy pots….hmmmmmm. Somehow I think he just didn’t want me to be a chef….
So I decided to look through my refrigerator and make some soup ala “Chopped” style by just using what I had on hand…
And I ended up making what I am calling “Stone Soup”. The name comes from the folk tale of a traveler who used a little trickery to create a lovely meal for an entire village:
Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.
“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.
By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.
“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.
So this is my:
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
4 chopped carrots
2 stalks chopped celery
1 package turkey kielbasa
2 to 3 potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 can beans (I used great northern, but kidney would be nice also)
8 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Put olive oil in Dutch oven or large pot. Cook onion until translucent. Then add carrots, celery, potatoes, and kielbasa and cook until veggies are softened and meat is browned. Add chicken stock. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Season to taste.
To me, the most important part is cooking all the veggies and meat together until you get those little browned bits in your pan. Then when you put the stock in, scrape up the brown bits, they will add a LOT of flavor. I did not add ANY seasoning to this soup, as the kielbasa and veggies flavored it enough. It was really quite delicious.
I shared some with the NewYorican, and she loved it so much she made it for her family the next day! I am making it for dinner this week also. It is perfect with a little baguette for sopping up the lovely flavors!