How To Make Stone Soup

One day a stranger came to my house. She said her name was Ana, and said that she was very hungry. She asked if I had any food that she could have.

I said that I didn’t have anything prepared, and asked if she had any ideas. She said, “I think you should make Stone Soup.”

Stone Soup?” I asked. “I’ve never heard of Stone Soup. Can you tell me how to make it?

“Sure,” Ana said. “All we need is this stone … “

“… and maybe a few other things … just to make it extra special.”

“First, do you have a piece of chuck roast about this big?”

No,” I told her. “Would a piece of pork loin work instead?


She told me to chop it up into bite-sized pieces.

Then she told me to melt some bacon fat in a large pot or Dutch oven, add the pork, and season with salt and pepper.

Then she had me cook it over medium heat, turning a few times, until the pork was browned all over.

While the pork was cooking, Ana asked me what vegetables I had. There was some asparagus, which Ana really liked.

And a zucchini, which I don’t think she had ever seen before.

And some carrots. When Ana saw those, she said they were much bigger and more oddly-shaped than the ones they usually give to little kids.

After seeing the vegetables, I said that this was starting to look a bit like a minstrone, so I asked if Ana liked tomatoes. She does.

So in that went, along with the pork. It loosened up all those tasty bits on the bottom of the Dutch oven, which I scraped up with a wooden spoon.

Finally, Ana asked me what herbs and spices I would normally add to a minestrone soup. I grabbed the parsley, sage, marjoram, cardamom, paprika, and a few cloves of garlic.

Ana said that sounded good, and trusted me to add the right amounts. I started with a tablespoon of parsley and a teaspoon each of sage, marjoram and cardamom.

I gave everything a stir to start getting the herbs re-hydrated.

Then I started to dice the carrots. I wanted to get them into the soup quickly, and the cutting board was covered with asparagus and zucchini. Then I remembered a trick I saw at a campfire once.

I was sure this was a bad idea, but I did it anyway.

Now that the carrots were in, I could see the soup was much too thick, so I added four cups of water.

Then I minced the garlic, stirred it in, and let everything simmer for two hours.

After two hours the carrots were getting soft, and the water had reduced a lot.

I checked the seasoning and added more salt and a couple of teaspoons of paprika.

I asked Ana if she liked pasta or rice in her Stone Soup, and she picked rice. I knew rice would suck up two cups of water for every cup of rice, so I added six cups of water and two cups of rice.

Then I covered the soup and turned the heat down low to cook the rice.

While that was going, I chopped the asparagus and zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Rice should take about a half-hour to cook. I checked at 20 minutes and everything was going great.

I added the asparagus and zucchini, so it could cook the last 10 minutes along with the rice.

Hmm … the rice seems to have absorbed a bit too much of the water.

Maybe I should go with only one cup next time.

I added more water and cooked another 20 minutes. Now it was almost the consistency of risotto, but flavored like minestrone, with chunks of vegetables and pork.

I topped it with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and served it with fresh-baked rolls.

I asked Ana if my Stone Soup was good.

She liked it.

I think she forgot to add the stone, though.

Want to hear the story? Here it is.

Stone Soup (aka Almost Minestrone)

Stone Soup (aka Almost Minestrone)


  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • ~1 pound each carrots, zucchini & zucchini
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each sage, marjoram and cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced


Dice the pork and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown in a Dutch oven over medium heat with bacon fat or olive oil. Add the tomatoes and deglaze the pan.

Add 2-4 cups of water and all the herbs. Allow to simmer for two hours.

Check the seasoning, then add the rice and 6 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the asparagus and zucchini. Cover and simmer another 10-20 minutes.

Check that the rice is done, and add more water if it has reduced too much. Top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and serve with fresh baked bread.