Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…three hungry and weary travellers arrive in a strange, shuttered village. The travellers have no money for food, but they do have a large cooking pot. And an idea on how to get their next meal.
That’s the premise of one of the most memorable books of my childhood, Stone Soup.
Most of us know what happens next: after filling the pot with water and a large stone the travellers inform the curious villagers that they are making a huge pot of stone soup. Enough for everyone.
Except…wouldn’t the soup be tastier if someone had herbs to add to the stone? Or how about some potatoes, or even potato peels? What about some carrots and celery? And maybe even a scrawny chicken?
Ever so slowly the villagers emerge from their houses, each one adding something to the pot. Once every ingredient in the soup is cooked the travellers remove the stone and share the tasty soup with all of the villagers.
Even as a child it was obvious this was a story with a lesson, and it was a very good lesson indeed: Sharing enriches everyone.
Maybe, just maybe, the sharing in Stone Soup is one of the reasons that I’ve always been attracted to soup tureens, those large, covered and handled bowls that hold enough cups of soup for everyone at the table.
As Wikipedia informs us, soup tureens came into use in late seventeenth-century France, and may be traced back to the first communal soup bowl, perhaps even one like the large cooking pot used by the travellers in Stone Soup.
I love how tureens are stocked with soup (preferably a cream soup!) and how that soup is ceremoniously ladled out into bowls around the table. Nothing seems warmer, nothing seems cheerier, nothing seems more embracing or hospitable than sharing soup served from a tureen.
Not that I have a tureen. Because there’s just two of us at my house, and even though we love soup, ours gets served from pot to cup and always will.
But my crush on soup tureens remains constant, and it looks like I’m not alone. Just check out this great collection of soup tureens from the Winterthur Museum’s Campbell (yes, that Campbell) Collection of Soup Tureens. Or enjoy George III’s tureen or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s or President Grant’s, or lastly—but not least—President Obama’s tureen. And finally, here’s a bit of tureen history.
If you have a tureen, or even if you have just a large cooking pot, consider making—and sharing, if you can—this delicious-but-simple Pumpkin Soup. It would look fantastic in this Fitz & Floyd Pumpkin Tureen!
- 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup of chopped onion
- 1 cup cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- Splash of sour cream
- Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the onion to a large cooking pot.
- Add the pumpkin puree, broth, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot. Bring all ingredients to a slow bowl.
- Reduce the heat and simmer the soup on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cream and heat the soup, without boiling it.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Serve the soup with a splash of sour cream and the croutons of your choice.
Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s latest historical mystery is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, which features murder, mayhem, and music in 1919 San Francisco. Her award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans.