I once read a children’s story about “stone soup.” It told of a man who had no money but who was very hungry. As he begged, unsuccessfully, for morsels of food from people in his village, he came upon an idea to fill his stomach. He found an old soup pot, filled it with water, and put a few stones in the bottom. As he was stirring the water over a fire, people in the village came out to watch him. As he stirred, he commented loudly about how delicious his stone soup was, but, he said, it would taste a lot better if he could add some carrots. A village woman who was watching brought out some carrots. Then the man proclaimed potatoes would improve it, as would some meat, and so on. As people’s curiosity became greater, he was able to complete a fabulous soup from all the ingredients people contributed. When it was finished, of course, he ate with gusto, as did the village people, who agreed that stone soup was a wonderful meal.
One supposes that meals of soup, or stew, have derived form absolute necessity. I can see in my mind farm wives or fisherman’s wives putting together a hearty soup by using everything they could find in the larder to make it into a full meal, as well as seasoning it with herbs and spices to improve the taste by concealing the flavor of day-old bread and old vegetables.
Despite necessity, it’s no big secret that winter is a good time for soup, and if one does it right, one can make an entire meal out of a hearty soup.
Potato Leek Soup
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onion, julienned
2 small leeks (use white part only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh fennel, chopped (optional)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
-In heavy pot, heat olive oil and saute the onions over low heat until slightly golden.
-Add the leeks and the potatoes and saute for 5 minutes.
-Add 6 cups of water and bring to the water. Cover and simmer until the potato almost done, about 10-15 minutes.
-Add the beans, the fennel, the tarragon, the nutmeg, the salt and the pepper. Continue to simmer for extra 5 minutes.
Serve this soup with fresh garlic cheese bread and you will have good meal.