When I was a wee tike (I begin writing with a Gaelic slant as it nears St. Patrick’s Day despite my lack of any Irish heritage), I watched Captain Kangaroo every day. I watched it because I loved the Captain and Mr. Green Jeans and Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose and all the characters. Now that I’m older, I see that the creators didn’t spend a lot of time coming up with clever names for their characters. Once they thought up Captain Kangaroo based on his big pockets, they were apparently worn out.
Anyhoo, what I didn’t realize as a child was that I was also learning things. To this day, I will hear a piece of classical music and recall it from Captain Kangaroo. I also became familiar with some really good children’s books as I listened to the Captain read to me. Remember Ping, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Make Way for Ducklings?
But my favorite by far was Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown. It was the story of some soldiers who enter a village. They are hungry, but the villagers won’t give them anything to eat because they are strangers. The crafty soldiers tell the villagers they will make them Stone Soup. The villagers had never heard of such a thing and were intrigued. The soldiers place some stones in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Soon they sigh and begin telling each other how some carrots would improve the stone soup so much. One of the villagers, still intrigued by the idea of Stone Soup, offers some carrots. Soon the soldiers have tricked the villagers into donating more vegetables and some meat, until they have a delicious soup.
During Lent, we are asked to pray, fast, and give alms. Of course, Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, but this never feels like a sacrifice because I love fish and seafood. Instead, it seems like a way to serve shrimp to Bill and blame it on the Pope. But one way I can sacrifice is to eat simpler meals throughout Lent. Soups, for example.
My mom made good soup. When she and Dad owned the bakery and coffee shop in Leadville, she offered her customers homemade soup every weekday. Chili every day, and a second soup that varied each day. Cream of Broccoli, Cream of Mushroom, Minestrone, Clam Chowder, Ham and Bean, Split Pea. I’m getting hungry.
Mom made a Vegetable Beef Soup that I often crave but never make. She used a beef shank and the soup cooking with that bone gave it a rich, beefy flavor that was simply delicious. Quite frankly, I never make it because I’m afraid it won’t taste like hers and I will miss her too much.
Yesterday my sister Bec, having read the blog post from the previous day in which I whined about not having a car, took pity on me and headed my way in order to be my chauffeur. Remember this, Kids: Whining pays big dividends. To repay her generous spirit, I invited her to dinner. A steak would have been a great thank you, but instead I served her beef and tomato macaroni soup. Not with a beef shank but with ground beef, tomatoes, and macaroni….
The temperature got down to a brisk 58 degrees at sunset (I’m kidding all you people who are currently shoveling snow) and the soup tasted good. Stone Soup without the stones.
Here is a link to the soup.