Squeezing Irish Carrot Soup from a Stone · 31 August 2007
When I was very young, my mother read to me a lovely book called Stone Soup. It was one of the many versions of a fable supposed to illustrate the value of sharing by showing how a woman with just a cauldron, some water, and a stone can turn out a wonderful meal for the whole village if each villager brings a little something to put into the pot.
I remember “getting” the message, but being equally impressed by the wiliness of the woman who took an empty cauldron and made dinner out of it. When I was reading Tipperary, I was reminded of this story because of the many ways in which the main character, Charles, seems to make something out of nothing, despite all expectations.
At one point in the story Charles signs on to perform an unpaid duty. It takes quite a bit of his time, and his family thinks him mad for doing it. He’s the villager I would have been laughing at as a child, freely giving up his vegetables for the scheme of an old woman with a pot. But Charles knows that he has made the right decision. His love for the task that he is performing overwhelms any sense that he is being taken advantage of.
Eventually, his family comes to realize that Charles made the right decision, unreasonable as it seems to them. He was able to see to the end of the fable, where the bubbling cauldron of soup fed the group of villagers and was far more nourishing to everyone than any one vegetable would ever have been if kept in his own hands.
In tribute, I decided to make this carrot soup, yet another great symbol from the book. There is a scene in which April Burke meets Charles’ family. He is very anxious that they make a good impression on each other. His mother, also eager to meet the girl who has captured her son’s affections, goes out of her way to be hospitable.
In his recollection of the meeting, Charles nods to the efforts of his mother, who he says outdid herself with an outstanding carrot soup. He believes that April had a lovely time, and fails to see how she couldn’t have after enjoying the warmth and hospitality of his parents’ home. His mother, whose journal also makes appearances in the book, recollected the meeting quite differently, yet still presented herself with grace and pride to her guest.
Just like the book Stone Soup, Tipperary delighted me with the myriad viewpoints presented in events both small and large. And just like the actual Stone Soup, this Carrot Soup has a lot of potential.
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced (Save time by buying baby peeled carrots if you’d like)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 5 whole cloves
- 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock or broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup heavy (whipping ) cream
- Fresh parsley to garnish
Recipe and method taken straight from FoodIreland.com. This is a very straightforward soup recipe, and cooks familiar with making soup from scratch will probably be able to figure it out just from the ingredient list.
Unfortunately my carrots didn’t ripen in time for the cookpot, but the soup turned out well. I think if I were to make it again, I’d make it a bit spicier. There were some interesting adaptations I found on this recipe that incorporated curries and chutnies. I found this version just a bit bland, but still tasty. I may even add a few things to the leftovers and continue the stone soup tradition.