"It is only by sharing that we may make a feast"
It was early Sunday morning, well before the day broke light. . .I looked out the kitchen window. . .the ground glistening with frost. . .no movement anywhere. . .WINTER. . .COLD. . .STILL. . .
I shivered a little. . .wrapped in an over-sized robe. . .and fuzzy houseshoes. . .waiting for the coffee to perk. . .looking forward to those first warm sips to start the day.
Neighbors. . ."Where ARE the neighbors,?" I thought to myself. . .I haven't seen them since Fall. . .only an occasional truck or car now and then. . .Whatever happened to the days of family and friends gathering together on cold Winter nights for SOUP--or chili--or stew. . .Whether at homes or church. . .we gathered together. . .each with our contribution to the feast. . .SMILES. . .LAUGHTER. . .SHARING. . .
I poured my coffee. . .headed for the couch to snuggle with Boo. . .still DARK. . .still QUIET. . .still lost in my thoughts. . .
"STONE SOUP". . .I said to myself. . .I hadn't thought of that story in ages but somehow it seemed appropriate and not unlike our SOUP suppers of the past. . .
"Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meager harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat.The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. "Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have: the secret of how to make soup from stones."Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town's greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. "Now this will be a fine soup", said the second soldier; "but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!" Up jumped a villager, crying "What luck! I've just remembered where some's been left!" And off she ran, returning with an apronful of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast.They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends. In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village's best breads and cheese. "You have given us the greatest of gifts: the secret of how to make soup from stones", said an elder, "and we shall never forget." The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: "There is no secret, but this is certain: it is only by sharing that we may make a feast". And off the soldiers wandered, down the road."
It's daylight now. . .the sun is bright. . .the last bit of frost is gone. . .Inside I'm rattling pots and pans. . .looking for the right size. . .gathering the last of the winter vegetables. . .as John comes staggering in. . .half asleep. . .pouring his first cup of coffee for the day. . .
"We're having company for supper. . ."
WINTER VEGETABLE STEW
1 sweet potato
1 lb squash
2 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 cup onions, peeled and cut into 1/4" wedges
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup pureed tomato (or tomato sauce)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne (to taste)
1 (10oz) package frozen peas
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
croutons for topping
Peel sweet potato, carrots, and squash, cut into 1/4-1/2" pieces. . .Peel and mince or press garlic. . .Cut bell pepper into 1/4" strips. . .Cook sweet potato, carrots, squash, garlic, onions and 1 cup of broth in a covered pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few tablespoons of water if mixture begins sticking to the pan. Bring to a boil. . .Add 1 more cup of broth, along with the bell pepper, tomatoes, lime juice, and cayenne. Return to a boil and reduce heat. . .Simmer covered until vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes. If stew sticks to pan, add more broth. . .Add peas and stir occasionally until hot. . .Add salt and pepper to taste. . .Ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons.