Teeny Tiny Graveyard Soup
(e-SoupSong 54: October 31, 2004)
'Tis the season, heh heh.
All Hallow's Eve, that October 31 Celtic holiday, when Samain assembles the souls of the recently dead and places them in animal bodies according to how well they've lived their lives...followed quickly next day by Druid priests sacrificing those poor animals on altars to the sun--all for "good luck" on Celtic New Year. Feel a chill up your spine? You should.
I, for one, sense witches braying at the moon; warlocks decking themselves out for terrible rituals; black cats slinking; skeletons clawing their way up out of their graves, and not just because the election is nigh. It's Hallowe'en. You owe it to yourselves and to your teeny tiny (or larger) friends to be properly ghoulish.
My 4-step recipe for a proper All Hallow's Eve:
- Send the little ones out to trick or treat.
- Finalize a pot of Graveyard Soup (below).
- Set the table for dinner; light the candles; douse the lights.
- When the kids return or the guests show up, convene dinner and ladle out the soup--bones, feet, fingers, guts, teeth, and two eyeballs per bowl--and read the story of Teeny Tiny and the Soup Bone, also below, by candlelight. The soup is totally filling and healthy, an excellent base for the candy orgy that follows. The story, a childhood favorite of mine, very very silly...but with a chilly graveyard touch to it.
GRAVEYARD SOUP (for 6)
For the broth (this needs at least 2 hours preparation time--it's nice to do in advance):
Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and return the broth to a serving pot--one that you can still cook in, but that you can also take to the table for serving. Replace the 6 chicken feet in the pot. Tear the meat from the bones in large pieces and reserve; remove the gristle, skin, and tendon from the bones and discard; return the clean bones to the pot. Discard remaining vegetables and spices. Continue cooking the bone broth, uncovered, over medium heat (to concentrate the flavors) while you prepare the "body parts."
- 4 pounds chicken legs
- 6 chicken feet (if you can find them)
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 celery stalk, with leaves, trimmed
- 1 carrot, scrubbed and trimmed
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups cold water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons white peppercorns
- NOTE: No garlic--you don't want to keep the vampires away
For the body parts:
When you are about ready to serve this up, taste the tomato-chicken broth for flavor and boil down, as necessary, to concentrate flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved cooked pasta, asparagus, corn, and chicken pieces, and let simmer for 5 minutes--it's a very thick soup at this point. Take the pot to the table with a ladle, accompanied by a side dish of eyeball garnish. Ladle the soup into flat soup plates, getting some bones and maybe one chicken foot per serving along with the other ingredients. Then plop two eyeballs on top, staring at you, and pass to your dinner guest with a raised eyebrow. When the last bowl is served, clear your throat to proclaim, in a squeaky voice, the story below.
- Hearts and blood: 1 1-pound can plum tomatoes and juice--add the entire can right now, immediately, to the bone broth
- Guts: Place 3 nests (2 ounces) of spinach tagliatelle pasta in heavily salted boiling water; cook til al dente; drain and reserve. (How heavily salted? In French Laundry Thomas Keller's words, "like the sea.")
- Fingers: 1 12.2-ounce bottle of peeled, white asparagus. Drain, cut each in half, and reserve the top halves as fingers (the bottom halves can be saved for another use).
- Teeth: Cut big white corn kernels off the cob and reserve.
- Flesh: Reserved chicken pieces--as much as you like, saving the rest for another use.
- Eyeball garnish: Fresh mozzarella and olives. With a melon scoop, scoop 12 eyeballs from an 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella. Stab olive "irises" into each ball--arrange in a bowl for garnishing at table.
TEENY TINY AND THE SOUP BONE
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a teeny-tiny woman who lived in a teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village. Now, one day this teeny-tiny woman put on her teeny-tiny bonnet, and went out of her teeny-tiny house to take a teeny-tiny walk. And when this teeny-tiny woman had gone a teeny-tiny way, she came to a teeny-tiny gate; so the teeny-tiny woman opened the teeny-tiny gate, and went into a teeny-tiny churchyard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had got into the teeny-tiny churchyard, she saw a teeny-tiny bone on a teeny-tiny grave, and the teeny-tiny woman said to her teeny-tiny self, "This teeny-tiny bone will make me some teeny-tiny soup for my teeny-tiny supper." So the teeny-tiny woman put the teeny-tiny bone into her teeny-tiny pocket, and went home to her teeny-tiny house.
Now when the teeny-tiny woman got home to her teeny-tiny house, she was a teeny-tiny bit tired; so she went up her teeny-tiny stairs to her teeny-tiny bed, and put the teeny-tiny bone into a teeny- tiny cupboard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep a teeny-tiny time, she was awakened by a teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard, which said:
"Give me my bone!"
And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head under the teeny-tiny clothes and went to sleep again. And when she had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice again cried out from the teeny-tiny cupboard a teeny-tiny louder.
"Give me my bone''
This made the teeny-tiny woman a teeny-tiny more frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head a teeny-tiny further under the teeny-tiny clothes. And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard said again a teeny-tiny louder:
"Give me my bone!"
And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, but she put her teeny-tiny head out of the teeny-tiny clothes, and said in her loudest teeny-tiny voice...
Thus the story of Teeny Tiny and the Soup Bone.
Bon appetit...and Happy Hallowe'en,
Resources: Joseph Jacobs' Story of Teeny Tiny; also, thanks to artist Judith Forrest for the inspiration, from her childhood memories of post-World War II Graveyard Soup in England, at www.soupsong.com/sgraveyd.html.
NEXT MONTH: The Original Mr. Natural, Part I: Giving Thanks for Native American Soups
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