Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stone Soup sans Stone (aka Beef Stew).

Stone Soup with Rice.

one of the most popular children's stories is perhaps that of the stone soup. lest you've never heard of it (and just where have you been?), a hobo chances upon a village and convinces its people that he has magic stone capable of making the best soup ever. the only problem is that his magic stone required the help of some garnishing, which he didn't have.

impressed and eager to savour the wonders of that magic stone, each village household contributed something from their kitchen. from celery, to potatoes, to meat, every item was added to the pot as an exchange for a portion of that magically tasty soup. with that many ingredients added to the pot (with the stone in it), the soup naturally turned out amazingly delicious.

Wikipedia would have you believe that the moral of the story lies in the virtues of co-operation, but i like to see this as simply good marketing. at most, it's an ingenuity for cooking leftover ingredients. this story has inspired so many people that it has come to a point where some people are actually taking the recipe as illustrated in the story quite seriously...

anyway, a fortnight ago when i was desperately trying to rid my then soon-to-be-rotting vegetables and expired scotch fillets, i thought i'd give this Stone Soup--sans stone and storyline recipe--idea a try, and it actually was quite lovely.

i realise that this recipe might sound a lot like a beef stew.


beef stew. d's stone soup. po-tah-to. po-teh-to.

2 pieces, beef steak (i'm using t-bones for their marrows)
2, carrot
3-4, potato
2, mustroom (i'm using cups)
2, tomato
2 sticks, celery
1, onion
3-4 cloves, garlic
2-3, red chilli (depending on how spicy you like the soup)
1, lemon
2 stalks, spring onion/ scallion
1 bunch, parsley (abt 5 stems worth)
1 tbsp, black pepper
4 tbsp, butter (optional; see Step 2)
1 cup, flour (optional; see Step 2)
2 tbsp, red wine (optional; see step 3)
4 tbsp, honey (optional; see step 3)

Stone Soup: Ingredients.
(missing in picture: onion, garlic, spring onion)


Step 1: Chopping, Slicing and Dicing!
chop, slice, dice the steaks and vegetables, then have all of them thrown into a pot. add enough water to drown all the ingredients and start your fire. i recommend a small to medium flame, on which you allow the soup to cook very, very slowly.

Stone Soup: Into the Pot.

when the soup comes to a boil, add the pepper and lemon juice in and allow everything to simmer till it reduces to about 4/5 to 3/4 of the original amount. stir intermittently.

after at least half an hour, you can taste the soup and see if you're happy with the results so far. if you are, *ta-da*, you're done and can skip the next two steps.

Step 2: Thickening the Soup.
if you'd prefer a slightly thicker soup (stew-like), you'd have to thicken the mix.

first, melt the butter in a bowl, and stir in the flour slowly until you've got all the flour mixed with the butter. coating the flour with butter prevents the flour from clumping up when you add it into the soup.

slowly stir the buttered flour into the simmering soup, and let everything boil for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the soup thickens.

(taste it, and if you're happy so far, skip the next step.)

Step 3: Adding Extra Unimportant Clear-Before-They-Expire Things.
i'm simply adding what's left of my red wine and honey into the soup, then let simmer for another five minutes.

Stone Soup: Brewing in Crock Pot.
(see additional notes below on use of slow crockery pot cooker.)

Final Serve.
the versatile stone soup can be enjoyed as a main (accompanied by bread or steamed rice), or as an appetiser or a side.

i like mine with rice!

Stone Soup: Final Serve with Rice.

everyone should try to make hir version of the stone soup out of the odds and ends lying in your kitchen. as my friend, fiq, likes to say: just throw them all in and hope for the best!


Stone Soup with Rice.

Additional Notes.
1. Use of Crock Pot. i'm leaving everything in a slow crockery cooker overnight. additionally, slow cooking it allows the meat to get really very tender. you needn't go to such a drastic measure, because direct heat works just fine. just be sure to be slightly patient to allow the soup to boil in due time.

2. Recooking. the remainder can be reboiled whenever you decide to have some. the more you boil, the thicker and tastier it gets really.

3. Not Stew-like. i used .5 cup of flour instead of the recommend 1 cup as described above. this is just a personal preference of not wanting the soup to end up stew-like.

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