Tuesdays will be our recipe day during the Real Food Challenge. Check back each week, there might be one recipe there might be three.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite stories was one called Nail Soup (also known as Stone Soup). It’s a traditional Swedish folk tale, here it is in my words as I remember.
There once was a traveler that came to a small village carrying nothing but the ragged clothes on his back and bent rusty nail. The villagers tried to run him out of town saying that he was going to steal from them. “Oh no, I was coming to share some nail soup with you. All I need is a pot filled with water and I’ll make some soup to be enjoyed by all,” he said. One curious villager brought him a pot filled with water.
The traveler built a fire and got his rusty nail out of his pocket and dropped it in the pot. Soon the villagers started gathering around to see what nail soup was. After a while, the traveler tasted the soup and said, “If only I had some onions, that would really make the soup wonderful.” One of the villagers ran to grab a couple of onions. After adding the onions and cooking the soup for a while, he tasted it again and said, “If I only had a few carrots and maybe some peas, then the soup would be so much better.” Another villager ran to get a few carrots and another got some peas.
The stranger kept tasting the soup and each time he’d mention something else that would make the soup “just right” and each time a villager would run and get that item for the soup. After a while the pot was bubbling with the best smelling soup the villagers had ever smelled.
The traveler fished out his nail, wrapped it in a handkerchief and put it back in his pocket. Then he served up the stew to all the villagers, it was the most wonderful stew they had ever tasted. They were very impressed with the Nail Soup, although they could never replicate the recipe themselves.
Here’s another version of the story if you’re interested.
Nail soup is a staple in the winter here at Chiot’s Run. My version is a simple soup made with all the things I have that need used up from the freezer and pantry. I thawed a venison steak and then proceeded to check in my freezer for anything else that needed used. It’s different every time I make it depending on what needs used up. Usually it contains vegetables like: tomatoes, potatoes, corn, grated zucchini, peas, etc, whatever I find in the freezer that sounds like it will go well in the soup. I also use some fresh ingredients like onions and garlic. I keep adding things as I find them, and pretty soon it was smelling quite delicious. After cooking in a pot for a few hours, I added a jar of my homecanned tomato soup and a few dried herbs from the garden to finish it off. It made for a lovely dinner with a side of freshly baked whole wheat bread.
One of the beautiful things about this soup is that you can customize it for you family’s tastes. You can make it differently each week. One week perhaps it’s more of an Italian nail soup with tomatoes, oregano, and lots of garlic. Maybe the next week it will contain sausage, lentils and carrots. Perhaps one week it will have beef and that half bag of noodles from the pantry. Don’t be afraid to experiment, this is how some of my most delicious soups have come about. I’ve developed recipes that I make over and over again.
I searched on-line trying to find the copy of the Nail Soup I had as a child, I think it may have been This One. This version of Nail Soup is updated and looks great as well. If you’re ever looking for a great children’s book to give someone, I’d highly recommend finding a copy of nail soup.
Did you have a story that you loved as a child?
I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.