When I was a child, I loved the story "Stone Soup." I'm still not sure why, but I found it very exciting, the idea of creating something from nothing; or maybe it was the idea that we really do have everything we need, if we have the courage to begin to create.
Anyway, I still love making soup. There is something so comforting and wholesome about the activity, especially on a day like today: wet, cold, drab, and threatening snow.
One of the facts of island life is that we don't have access in the sense most people have become accustomed to. I can't order in a pizza or Thai food on lazy nights (frozen pizza from the General Store doesn't really cut it, although it is a last resort...) Also, I only grocery shop every 10 days or so. We don't have a big grocery store here, just the General Store for essentials like milk and bread (and frozen pizza.)
So on the days at the end of my grocery cycle (like today), I'm often in a "stone soup" kind of situation. And it's fun, I enjoy it. I've always loved the great cuisines that developed from so called "peasant" food: the Italian and Indian cuisines, for instance, are great examples of how simplicity, necessity, devotion, taste, and love brought forth miracles from the simple ingredients of farmyard, kitchen garden, and countryside.
Today I am making an Italian minestre, a hearty soup with what I have on hand, requiring improvisation and a bit of scrounging. I can smell it cooking as I write, and in a moment I will venture out into the muddy, dormant garden to see if my rosemary, oregano, and thyme plants will give me a few tired but pungent winter leaves.
At dinner we'll drink cheap but good red wine from handmade clay cups, tear pieces from an island-made baguette, and enjoy steaming bowls of this simple, soulful soup.