ABC soup and the stone soup folk tale

abc soup recipe

ABC soup is basically a soup where you dunk in everything that’s available to make a clear broth soup. The traditional (if such a word can be used to describe this) method calls for:

abc soup vegetables

An onion (whole)

abc soup ingredients

I used to think that ABC soup is called that because it’s easy as 1-2-3 (or ABC) but I’ve been thinking about this old folk tale about the stone soup story. There are variants of this story but the one I heard is about this traveller who comes into a village hungry with nothing but a pot.

abc soup pot

He asks the villagers for some ingredients to put into the soup but no one wanted to part with anything. He then announces that he’s got a “magical stone” that makes wonderful soup and proceeds to fill the pot with water and puts the stone inside. So, he’s sitting there, stirring what amounts to nothing but water when a curious villager comes over and asks if it’s done.

abc soup cook

The traveller says not yet, but it would help if someone had carrots to put in it. Enhances the flavor, the dude casually mentions. The villager grudgingly says that he might have some carrots at home and adds it to the hot water. This became a cascading effect as the villagers watched the traveller cook his soup – each one started contributing their own stuff – a bit of meat, some onions, tomatoes etc and lo and behold – it was the best soup they’ve ever tasted.

abc soup boil

There’s a moral in there somewhere but that’s not why I’m writing this post. Heh! ABC soup has become something of a staple in our cooking since it’s quite versatile and very easy to cook. You basically need onions (sliced in half), carrots (diced), potatoes (whole if you use the tiny ones) and tomatoes (sliced in half).

abc soup peel

Just use to golden rule:
PEEL the stuff that needs peeling
SLICE the stuff that needs slicing
DICE the stuff that needs dicing

abc soup

You bring a pot of water to boil, add some salt to taste and dunk everything in. Allow this to simmer for 30 minutes or so and it’s ready to eat!

abc soup heat

The best thing about this is that even if you can’t finish it you can still eat (we use more ingredients than soup) it in the middle of the night. There’s this thermos like thing (except it’s much bigger) that we use to keep it warm.

abc soup leftover

I can just scoop some out and eat it at 3 am in the morning if I’m hungry. ABC soup is easy to cook and infinitely customizable – we’ve put leftover minced meat inside too, it goes very well with just about anything. It’s really healthy compared to the other stuff I eat too. 🙂

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26 thoughts on “ABC soup and the stone soup folk tale”

  1. you need to dump in some pork bones/ribs or chicken carcass/chicken feet and simmer for a couple of hours to make the stock taste right

    soups without a proper meat stock is like fucking a chick without groping and fondling her titties. something’s just not complete

    • Heh! Good point bro! However, the way we do ABC soup is to make it quick and fast. It’s not chicken soup. We have chicken carcass (gotta great recipe I gotta share sometime) and chicken stock (those OXO cubes and the ones that comes in a bottle) but ABC soup is not meant to be chicken broth based, at least not as I’ve eaten it. 🙂

      It’s primarily a very bland and healthy vegetable heavy soup.

      However, chicken feet with it sounds good, if a little hard to eat coz of all the tiny bones inside.

  2. For a quick and filling meal, my friends and I dumped bihun into it. But, we sliced the onions, tomatoes and potatoes into smaller biting size, easier to eat. =P
    Oh yes, we also managed to put in a lot of cabbage and that’s our version of ABC soup for dinner. Haha=P

    • Hello Lynthia! That sounds very delicious actually! Lots of veggies, even cabbage!

      Putting bihun inside would make it a good meal. I haven’t thought of that coz we put a lot of potatoes into it so there’s all the carbs that makes it filling. 😀

      It’s a great idea though. I shall try it someday. Thanks Lyn! 🙂

    • Heh! It is a bit hard to get wrong, ABC soup. What did you do to it? 😉

      No worries though, I have more than my share of recipe mishaps…like this one time (it was yesterday actually) when I thought something was sugar based (in fact it was citrus based) and I put it into dessert. T_T

      Now that tasted really wierd.

      BTW, you’re a great cook. I love your blog Michelle! 😀

  3. I like to boil the soup until the surface of the potatoes disintegrates a little. Makes the soup a bit more robust.

    You can add a handful of wolfberries for some sweetness.

    • Sounds good! Goji would make this a tastier soup. 🙂

      Cheers for the tip bro! 😀

      I prefer my potatoes to be nice and firm – makes for a more filling soup, IMHO – to each his own!

    • You mean the skin bro? I kinda like it this way. 😀

      …and the onion tastes sweet to me, I sometimes reduce the cooking time so the onion will still be whole (or at least halved).

      Unfortunately, it tends to disintegrate, unless you don’t chop the onion in half and put it in whole. 🙂

  4. I done this soup when I was in 5th grade for the story of stone soup. It show students that all join in together with what ever they have to make it. It was a great soup also but no one brought meat bone for it but it really does not need it. We had it with slice bread each students had a hard boiled egg brought in by someone mom. A very nice lunch.

    • Nice one mate! 🙂

      I’m kinda traditional when it comes to ABC soup – I don’t think of it as a meat or chicken based broth.

      ABC soup is clear (as in no flavor except the ones absorped from the vegetables) broth to me…at least that’s how I’ve always eaten it. 😀

      Yeah, I love the stone soup story, read that when I was a kid. Heh!

    • Thanks for the tip bro! 😀

      Yeah, dried cuttlefish would be nice. We bought some the other day coz it was on sale but haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.

  5. Yup! Add meat or meatbones…or fishballs, fish slices…or prawns…to enhance the taste of the soup. Or if there’s none of these, use those stock cubes…or at least, salt and msg. Can add a few cloves of garlic too. LOL!! You remember the story…

    • Yeah, we have a lot of those OXO cubes and Maggi chicken stock (the liquid ones in the bottle) but we never use it for ABC soup. We use it for chicken rice and chicken soup.

      I don’t know, to me ABC soup is primarily a vegetable soup with a clear broth base – no chicken stock so we cook it that way. 🙂

      Yeah, fish slices and prawns would be really good though! I would love to add garlic, it makes everything taste better but the gf doesn’t like it in food. 😡

      Haha! Yeah, it’s kinda like mandatory reading (or was it from a random book I read when I was a kid)…forgot which one. There are a lot of versions but this is the one I remember. 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s quite easy and really healthy too eh? 😀

      I mean compared to other stuff.

      I bet you can cooked the preserved meat thing too – nothing to it, just put it in a rice cooker Fresh. 🙂

    • Yup! Hey, but wouldn’t instant noodles be faster? 😀

      I seldom cook instant noodles nowdays since my gf brought a rice cooker over – prefer to eat rice with preserved meat. 🙂

      I like ABC soup coz it’s healthy compared to the other stuff I eat. We just use salt and that’s it. No msg or other artificial flavors.

    • Heh! Yeah but it’s just simple ABC soup not double boiled Cantonese soup. I don’t know how to make that but I’ll sure love to try! 🙂

      Oh, I don’t put pepper in ABC soup. You mean peppers as in the green and red colored things or pepper as in Sarawak pepper?

      The gf doesn’t like the green and red colored peppers and I don’t put Sarawak pepper into ABC soup coz I want it to be a healthy and bland soup. 😀

  6. i see you have a thermal pot, heard that you can just bring the soup to boil and left it to continue cooking in that pot for hours, wonder how practical is it tho before i commit to one.

    • Yeah, it’s very useful! It works very well for BKT too…can’t finish the soup so we’ll add some drumsticks inside, crack and egg, maybe some noodles and eat it for supper. 🙂

      Hmm…yeah I heard you can do that since it somehow retains the heat and condenses (?) it, but I’ve never tried it myself. I don’t think it would get significantly hotter. *shrugs


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