Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

This 101, on how to make stone soup (aka garbage soup, trash can soup, etc.), comes from the HOMEGROWN test kitchen. Post your own group soup tips in the comments section below!


Stone soup. Garbage soup. Trash can soup. Whatever you call it, this dish can’t help but bring people together.


Here at HOMEGROWN HQ, also known as Farm Aid, we kicked off the holiday season with a group soup. Two of my coworkers had been noodling the idea of a potluck lunch for some time, and thanks to their persistence and dedication, they made it happen. Good work, Jessica and Toni!


They sent out an email a couple of days in advance, notifying folks of the procedure—more on that below—and the date, getting the rest of us on board. Our ranks were reduced, as some folks had already left for vacation, but those of us still in the office lived it up in style. Check out the photos of pastries, below.


We also ate lunch together, as a staff, for the first time in a while. Good stuff.


How can you prepare your own stone soup? (And what’s with that name, anyway?) Here’s the gist: Someone plays the role of social organizer and taps a crew of friends, family, or coworkers—any group that might gather for a meal. Each of those folks brings one or more ingredients from his or her pantry or fridge or freezer and adds it to the pot.


Attendees get a chance to use up that lone turnip or last can of beans lingering on the shelf. They also get an excuse to partake in a communal meal: cooking, laughing, and eating together. Somewhat miraculously, the soup always ends up coming together, flavors mingling and mellowing in a true melting pot. Dig in!



Below is the list of ingredients we ended up with. Your soup will probably look different—but equally delicious! Keep us posted and let us know what goes into your pot.


» 2 kinds of dried beans, which Toni set out the day before to soak overnight

» 1 parsnip

» ½ bag of frozen corn

» 1 cup or so of wild rice

» 1 spice packet dug out of the depths of the pantry

» 1 carton of veggie broth

» dashes of available spices, including garlic and cumin

» leftover dip from a weekend dinner party

» crackers and cheese scavenged from our office kitchen

» 1 loaf of bread bought from a bakery down the block

» 1 box of pastries bought from a bakery next door to the bread bakery (We lucked out in the neighbor department.)



1. Soak any dried beans in water overnight.

2. The next day, when you’re ready to start cooking, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.


3. Slice any raw veggies and put them in a large stockpot. Add butter or olive oil and sauté until tender.


4. Add the broth, beans, and spices, tasting and adjusting as you go. Bring the whole shebang to a lively boil then turn down and simmer, leaving plenty of time for all those flavors to combine into one unified soup.


5. Supplement with a salad, snacks, and something sweet. Bonus points if you use the trash-can method for assembling your accompaniments, as well!


6. Serve up the soup and convene at the table. If someone forgets to bring an ingredient, ask him or her to jot down a few conversation starters on scraps of paper. Eat. Talk. Bond. Fill your bellies and your hearts.


7. Repeat monthly or as needed. Enjoy!


Do you have your own stone-soup anecdote or list of ingredients to share? Post tips below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in recipes for homemade bone broth, crackers, chili, and sourdough, as well as 101s on canning chicken stock, using up stale bread, and assembling a pantry of kitchen staples. You might also give 101s on community building, constructing a posting post, staring a food recovery program, meal planning, bartering, throwing a party on a budget, hosting a food swap, and launching a food buying club a gander. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, plant, grow, make, craft, and simmer in the HOMEGROWN 101 libraryWhatever you do, we want to hear about it. Share your family meals and spread the love!



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omg, the stone soup was awesome…that's why i'm smiling in the last photo!


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