My Stone Soup©
Read what our very good friend David Wronski has to say before we get to the definitive recipe for My Stone Soup© (yes, it’s copyrighted, so you know we’re talking something altogether different than your everyday stone soup like what for example Martha Stewart or that Bittman guy might try to foist off on you.)
Cooky Cat is my very good friend and I am happy to have the task of writing a forward to his book on stone soup, entitled My Stone Soup©. [Cooky Cat here: David wrote this under the impression that he was writing for a book and we won’t let him be the wiser. He needed the extra motivation, otherwise he might not have written so well and glowingly for just a blog entry.] His recipe from My Stone Soup© is, to use a modifier that one of his loyal fans gushed, “Frightfully” simple.
Yet, yet . . . I would have to say that while the recipe is indeed très simplicato it brings some serious umami to the party. It has even made a culinary dolt such as me to understand the true meaning and sense of the term “terroir”. It makes the Japanese Tea Ceremony look like child’s play. It is imbued with a depth of meaning and philosophical insight such that in comparison Diderot and Foucault look like dithering idiotic blabbermouths. But then, we have come to expect such from Cooky Cat, and once again he delivers. (It would help if you dust off that copy of The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ. Particularly to brush up on his development of the notion that all in creation is conscious, even the lowly rock; but, of course, in its own rocky way.)
Thank you David. As usual, more than necessary.
Now to My Stone Soup©.
Get yourself a nice stone. Natural, but of course. Now that sounds maybe too simple. But it’s in the getting that the necessary fuss comes in. Try to go to as remote a place as your budget and schedule permit. If you have hired help, then those factors don’t apply and you can send them off for as long as you please. As far as where to trek for that stone, we demure on suggestions. Our experience is that stones from different locals give an essence of the local situation that is each unique. Just like the famous geologist and Nobel Laureate, M. B. Prufnagel von Brunt und Fefferschnikel PhD, JD, DD, DVD, MSNBC has so famously (and definitively stated) “there are stones, and then there are stones.” Enough said. We’ll leave it at that (besides, any more and it would get really silly).
Also, as large a stone as you can. How large? Partly is depends, of course, on the size of your recipe; how many it’s going to serve. And the size and load rating of your truck. But also, in this regard, size does matter. The bigger the stone the bigger the flavor. (The new wave chefs are experimenting with a variant using large numbers of small stones claiming that the admixture of different types brings a whole another flavor layer, even layers, to the end result. We say, as always with all food preparation: HEY, THE INDGREDIENTS EACH HAVE THEIR OWN ESSENTIAL FLAVOR. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT. EVERYTHING DOESN’T NEED A SAUCE BASED ON AN ARM'S LENGTH OF HARD TO FIND AND RARE INGREDIENTS. Got that, Frenchy! You know who you are.)
So now you have your big stone and you don’t have a pot to cook it in. Our good friends at Lehman’s can crate you off a nice big 15 gallon cast iron cauldron and you can go Medieval and cook on your front lawn over an open fire. Again, choice of wood for the fire is critical also. Don’t worry about the neighbors, once they discover that you are making stone soup, they will surely approve. Or, run you out of town. Just kitting.
Then the water. Well . . . (Get it? Well. Well water.) A well near a leprechaun’s domicile is best, but who sees those creatures any more. Just to mention, because that is the best. Magical, in fact. Next best is Acqua della Madonna from Italy. Beatific. That may sound overly fussy; but, hey, you’ve already broken your back to get the stone and the pot. Break a leg. Crack open the wallet too.
As far as cooking is concerned, we always prefer good wood fire. And, besides, if you are going large scale, you will probably be outdoors anyway. The soup will be ready as soon as the rock is heated to exactly 212° Fahrenheit. (You should get a tester for that. It’s rather expensive and only good for getting the temperature of rocks. But Martha has one, so stop thinking.)
Last, concerning so called additionals. Those who have never tasted true stone soup will be tempted to toss in some vegetables, meats, noodles, what have you. Go ahead. But the true experience is a good rock cooked to the right temperature in good water. Serve straight away. Salt (if you must); but at the table, please.
As ever, you are welcome to a nice bowl of My Stone Soup©.