Stone Soup: a Child’s Invitation to Fill the Pot

Have you ever made stone soup? More than a simple vegetable soup, it can be an invitation to get creative and fill the pot for the whole family.

Long before my kids discovered the Disney Channel and its bevvy of child stars, Little Bear was our favorite show. That mysteriously half-clothed bear wandered through the forest in search of adventure with his friends and always came home to the ever unruffled Mama Bear. My kids were drawn to the music and the adventure, but I loved the show too, because it was filled with food.

As usual, Mama Bear saves the day with a beautiful cake.

Mama Bear was always cooking up something good, so good that we could almost smell the cookies wafting out of the TV into the den. My favorite episode wasn’t about Mama Bear’s cooking though, it was when Little Bear took to the stove to prepare birthday soup.

I think of Mama Bear’s cozy cabin in the woods every time I make stone soup (most weeks in the winter). I’ll include a recipe below, but it’s nothing more than a guide. Stone soup, as Little Bear found out, is a simple vegetable soup made from whatever happens to be in your fridge: a couple of onions, a horny broccoli stem, a few ugly potatoes, an odd carrot, and a tomato for color and good measure. Nothing’s certain about next week’s stone soup, other than the fact that it will look and taste different.

Stone soup is an exploration, an invitation to cook, a great excuse to use up the extra bits of vegetables from the last week’s cooking. It’s a great way to get kids cooking beyond making chocolate chip cookies, and much more fun than eating a big salad. I’ve even been known to invite the kids to throw a pretty stone or two in the pot, just to kick up the fun a bit.

Once you have a big pot of vegetable soup, you can doctor it each time you serve it. Or better yet, invite each family member to make it his own: sprinkle shaved Parmesan, drizzle truffle oil, throw in diced chicken, roasted honey carrots, or oven toasted prosciutto. Once you’ve got the family making stone soup, the possibilities are endless.

Vegetable Soup for the Whole Family: Stone Soup
  • 1 stalk of broccoli, without the florets
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 large red potatoes
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Peel the potato and carrots. Chop up all of your vegetables into chunks roughly the same size.
  2. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saute 3-4 minutes until soft and your kitchen is filled with a great smell.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to get everything nice and fragrant.
  4. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Puree the soup with a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  6. When serving, offer shaved parmesan, toasted prosciutto, crumbled goat cheese, or roasted vegetables. Or, just serve as is.
  7. This vegetable soup will keep in your fridge for 5 days. Freeze a little for future cold days!


One Response to Stone Soup: a Child’s Invitation to Fill the Pot

  1. Stone Soup was my favorite story when I was a child. I heard it on Captain Kangaroo. On of my teachers also read us the Marcia Brown’s Caldecott-winning picture book. Her book, of course, was based on the old folk tale. No telling how old it really is.

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