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Making Nail Soup

July 17th, 2010

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 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.

Last night I made a batch of nail soup, my version is a simple soup made with all the things I have that need used up. I thawed a venison steak and then proceeded to check in my freezer for anything else that needed used, I found a container of corn left from last year. I also found a head of garlic left from last year’s harvest in the basement pantry. Then I looked in the vegetable drawers in the fridge and came across some cabbage and a handful of the peas from the garden. I remembered that I had picked a pepper along with some onions and potatoes at my mom’s on Tuesday. I had a few beans from my sister’s garden and a big zucchini on the counter that I harvested a yesterday. I kept adding things as I’d 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 herbs from the garden to finish it off. It made for a lovely dinner with a side of freshly baked whole wheat bread.

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?

14 Comments to “Making Nail Soup”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Making Nail Soup #aboutme #miscellaneus #nailsoup […]

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  2. Mike on July 17, 2010 at 9:21 am

    In all honesty, that was always one of my favorite stories as a child…I was told the stone soup version. It was nice to hear it again.:)

    Reply to Mike's comment

  3. Sense of Home on July 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

    The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats were my two favorite books as a child; I still love them and share them at story hours.

    I also share the story of Stone Soup at my story hours.


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  4. Renee on July 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I always liked that story, too. ‘Chicken Soup with Rice’ and ‘The King, the Mice, and the Cheese’ were other favorites when I was young.

    That soup in your photo looks delicious!

    P.S. I see you have Cutco cutlery – I used to sell it and still use mine. Great knives!

    Reply to Renee's comment

    • Susy on July 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

      I used to sell Cutco as well when I was in college. I have the knives and the cookware and I love them both. Such great quality! I know I’ll be using them for a long long time!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. kristin @ going country on July 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Ah yes. I recall reading “Stone Soup” in the Highlights magazine.

    “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” was a favorite. I believe it has since been made into a movie, which I will not see, because . . . no. It is NOT a movie; it is a BOOK. Why must everything be made into a movie now? I find that extremely irritating.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Andrea on November 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      I know this is an old comment, but I just wanted to say that as a kid I LOVED Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. One of my all time favorite books.
      My husband actually came home with the movie not long ago and I was incredibly skeptical. But it turns out that the only thing the book and the movie have in common is the name. And the movie is hysterical! It has easily become one of our favorite kid’s movies and my kids ask to watch it at least once a week (which is impressive, since they only get 5 or so hours of TV watching a week)

      Reply to Andrea's comment

  6. Stacy on July 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Are you reading my mind?

    Thanks for the great suggestion! And perfect timing!

    Reply to Stacy's comment

  7. Amy on July 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Loved……loved……loved……Little House in the Big Woods……still do:)

    Reply to Amy's comment

  8. Corner Garden Sue on July 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I grew up with the stone soup story, but have never heard of nail soup. I love to make soup, and frequently make it like you did. Yours looked very yummy.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

  9. Corner Garden Sue on July 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I’m trying to remember if I had a favorite story growing up. I loved to read, and remember going to the library, checking out Nancy Drew books. When I had kids, I loved finding different versions of Over in the Meadow to read to them.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

  10. Dr. Dad on July 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

    You forgot to throw in the rusty nail!

    Reply to Dr. Dad's comment

  11. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm on July 19, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Cute story!

    I make stew like that. I keep an small plastic bucket in the freezer and just put all the little left over things in it, meats, veggies, fruits, gravies and sauces, everything. When its full, I make stew.

    Reply to Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm's comment

  12. Lynn on July 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    A book I read my daughter when she was younger is ‘Get Well Soup’. The story is like Stone Soup but the characters are animals. It also came with the recipe which we have made several times. In third grade she did her book report on the story. She also made up colorful recipe cards on the computer which had graphics of the different animals and the vegetables used in the soup and handed them out to all the kids and her teacher. The teacher actually made the recipe and loved it!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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