We have been working very closely with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library as we expand the Imagination Library across Ohio. We are so excited that almost every county in Ohio is included now!
Recently I found out that Dolly Parton has her own cookbook: “Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s: Love, Laughter, and Lots of Good Food From My Tennessee Mountain Kitchen.” I just got a copy and immediately started reading, and trying her recipes. They are a combination of recipes from her mother, and sisters, and friends, recipes from some of her favorite eating places, and recipes from Dollywood. So far I tried her Best Ever Featherweight Biscuits (light and delicious) and her Corn Fritters. Mike is begging for more corn fritters!
I read the whole book. I love her recipes, but I really love her stories. One of my favorite stories was about her mother’s Stone Soup. Stone soup is based on an old legend. Dolly says that while her mama was making stone soup, she loved to tell the story of the wandering soldier who arrived in a faraway village where there was nothing to eat. He announced he was going to make stone soup to share. So he pulled a big pot from his wagon, filled it with water, and dropped in a plain stone. He sniffed the broth, then tasted it, and made the folks who were gathered around hungrier and hungrier. Then he expressed a desire for some cabbage and maybe salt beef to add to it. One by one, the villagers found something to put in the pot. They gave what little they had — an onion, a turnip, a couple of carrots. Soon it became a delicious meal for all. Dolly says, to this day, the lesson of stone soup is with her. “By working together and everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved,” she said.
When Dolly’s mama made this soup for her family of 12 children, Dolly said “it was really magic to us children.” Her mama put a real stone in the soup. Each child picked out their own stone, and her mama picked out the child who needed special attention at that time to “plunk the all-important stone into the pot to get things started. We always had tomatoes we put up and of course hocks from the pigs Daddy butchered, so they all went into the soup.” You can add almost anything else you like — beans, sausage, chicken — whatever you have or are given — to make a beautiful tasty soup, out of virtually nothing.
I think this story of working together and sharing is so important during this time. We all have to work together and share what we have. It’s such a wonderful legend that I ordered a couple of books for my little grandkids so they could learn about the story. And as soon as we can be together cooking again, I’ll have them bring their special rocks and we will make some delicious stone soup.
Dolly Parton’s Stone Soup
2 quarts chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 pound turnips, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 smoked ham hock
1 very clean stone (optional)
salt and pepper
Combine the stock, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, turnips, carrots, onion, garlic and ham hock in a large soup pot. Add the stone, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup is thick and the vegetables are fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove the ham hock from the soup, remove the meat from the bone, and chop it into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the meat back to the soup. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.