Are you familiar with the folktale called Stone Soup? Hungry travelers arrive in a village and its inhabitants refuse to feed them. Rather than leave the village, the travelers place a stone in the bottom of an empty pot, fill the pot with water from a nearby stream, and set it over an open fire. Arousing the curiosity of the stingy villagers, the travelers answer their queries by telling them that they are making stone soup. “But,” the travelers say, “It is not quite ready. It needs a few more carrots (leeks, potatoes, seasonings, etc.).” And so, one by one, the villagers add vegetables and seasonings to the pot. By story’s end, the travelers and villagers sit down to enjoy a delicious meal together, prepared in the same cooperative spirit as today’s popular potluck suppers.
In her book, Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon Morell tells us that the first soups, dating back to the Stone Age, were called “stone soups.” Why? Because “…hot stones from nearby fires were added to the abdominal pouches of butchered animals in order to simmer up mixtures of meat, fat, bones, herbs, wild grains, and water.”
Winter is the perfect season to keep soup simmering on the back burner. And Sally Morell’s book is the perfect book to have handy when preparing nourishing broths. I highly recommend it for its wealth of knowledge on the science and healing power of broth, and for its simple recipes for preparing these broths in a slow cooker. Your home will smell marvelous throughout the long winter days.
The following recipe relies on stock from dried shitake mushrooms, but could just as easily be made with chicken, veggie, or hearty meat broths. It is made in the traditional manner of most soups, beginning with sautéed onion and garlic. The suggested vegetables—calcium-rich greens and legumes—help boost the immune system. I have also added butternut squash, tomatoes, and apples with great success. Remember, this is Stone Soup—so, toss in the leftovers and eat with abandon.
4 dried shitake mushrooms
6 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 leek, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained
4 cups chopped kale or collard greens (or combination of the two)
Salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, splash of cider vinegar or lemon juice
Directions (Serves 6)
- Cover dried mushrooms with 6 cups water in medium pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When mushrooms are soft, remove them from the broth. Dice the stems and caps and place them back in the pot with the broth.
- In a larger pot, over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in olive oil for about 3 minutes.
- Add the leeks, carrots, and cannellini beans, and sauté another 3 minutes.
- Add the kale and/or collards, and sauté until greens are deep green and tender.
- Add the mushrooms and broth to the sautéed vegetables and simmer slowly for about 20 minutes.
- Add seasonings to taste.
- If desired, serve over brown rice or soba noodles.
Nourishing Broth (Fallon, Sally Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, 2014)