Wanted: Great Literary Soups and Stews
January 11, 2011 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Please point me toward some extraordinary and odd soups & stews from the world of fiction. I would like to make some of them.

This is for a series of dinner parties, so... The Rules:

1. The soup/stew must plausibly be edible (stones are out) and perhaps delicious, as far as you can tell.
2. It must be possible to, you know, get the ingredients (e.g., griffins are out), unless a reasonable substitution comes to mind.
3. Far-fetched is better.

Ultra bonus points for vegetarian sumptuosity, but it's not a requirement. If you've made it, spill the story.

Two examples:

"But in the end he lugged a dirty canvas bag out of the depths of his trouser pocket, and counted out six shillings and sixpence into Toad's paw. Then he disappeared into the caravan for an instant, and returned with a large iron plate and a knife, fork, and spoon. He tilted up the pot, and a glorious stream of hot rich stew gurgled into the plate. It was, indeed, the most beautiful stew in the world, being made of partridges, and pheasants, and chickens, and hares, and rabbits, and pea-hens, and guinea-fowls, and one or two other things. Toad took the plate on his lap, almost crying, and stuffed, and stuffed, and stuffed, and kept asking for more, and the gipsy never grudged." (from Wind in the Willows)

"George said it was absurd to have only four potatoes in an Irish stew, so we washed half-a-dozen or so more, and put them in without peeling. We also put in a cabbage and about half a peck of peas. George stirred it all up, and then he said that there seemed to be a lot of room to spare, so we overhauled both the hampers, and picked out all the odds and ends and the remnants, and added them to the stew. There were half a pork pie and a bit of cold boiled bacon left, and we put them in. Then George found half a tin of potted salmon, and he emptied that into the pot. He said that was the advantage of Irish stew: you got rid of such a lot of things. I fished out a couple of eggs that had got cracked, and put those in. George said they would thicken the gravy." (from Three Men in a Boat)
posted by YamwotIam to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
All the food from the Redwall books. Especially deeper 'n ever pie and any of the desserts. Mostly fish and vegetarian food, what with most of the characters from the books being small vegetarian animals. I think I found a Redwall recipe book (or rather, .txt file) somewhere once upon a time.....
posted by Lebannen at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

!! OK, someone actually made a real book. I will have to think about buying it. The mice of Redwall like their food:
[Matthias has caught a fish]"Bring the white gooseberry wine! Fetch me some rosemary, thyme, beechnuts and honey, quickly. And now, friends, now," he squeaked, waving the dandelion wildly with his tail, "I, Hugo, will create a Grayling a la Redwall such as will melt in the mouth of mice. Fresh cream! I need lots of fresh cream! Bring some mint leaves too."
[In another time, Martin is at a party] Bulrush and water-shrimp soup provided by the otters; a large flagon of Skipper's famous hot root punch; hazel nut truffle; blackberry apple crumble; baked sweet chestnuts; honeyed toffee pears; and maple tree cordial, a joint effort by hedgehogs and squirrels. The Loamhedge and Mossflower mice had combined to provide a number of currant and berry pies, seedcake and potato scones, and a cask of October ale. By far the biggest single offering was a colossal turnip 'n' later 'n' beetroot 'n' bean deeper 'n' ever pie with tomato chutney baked by the Fore-mole and his team.
posted by Lebannen at 5:46 PM on January 11, 2011

And now a colossal facepalm due to failing to read the question. sorry. good night.
posted by Lebannen at 5:48 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is exactly what AskMe is for! Oh man so many librarians are going to help you now!

- I remember the mother in A Wrinkle in Time was always cooking their dinners like stews on bunsen burners, but it was more about the method than the recipe, I think.

- Stone soup could be really fun actually - make everyone bring one ingredient but don't let them know what the whole thing is about. You don't eat the soup, it's more like a sedimentary bay leaf.

- Cormac McCarthy's Turtle Soup

- Ian McEwan's Fish Stew

- There are for sure some vegan-type recipes mentioned at length in Millroy the Magician, food is what that dude is all about.

- Other good bets I feel like would have food porny things going on: Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Secret Garden, Jane Austen, Swiss Family Robinson?
posted by SassHat at 5:59 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Green Pea Soup from Roald Dahl's The Witches, as featured in Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. After being obsessed with Roald Dahl as a child, I made and consumed every. single. recipe from this book and remember finding this one pretty delicious.
posted by banannafish at 5:59 PM on January 11, 2011

er, stone
posted by SassHat at 6:02 PM on January 11, 2011

It's hard to say whether cassoulet is a stew or something else, but the explicitly and extraordinarily non-vegetarian recipe in Cassoulet: A Short Story by Walter Satterthwait meets all of your criteria.
posted by drdanger at 6:11 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't remember an in-depth description of a soup or the preparation thereof in any of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, but I did find a supposedly-associated recipe for pumpkin soup in The Book Club Cook Book.
posted by srah at 6:23 PM on January 11, 2011

Track down a copy of Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. It is FULL of these; the one that is springing to mind is their "Primordial Soup" (actually a fish stew, only with some octopus and greens, so it looks very much...primoridal-soup-like). There's also a gumbo recipe, and the introduction in the cookbook contains the wisest thing I've ever heard said about gumbo: "It's one of those dishes which it's silly to have a recipe for. You just...make it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

An English grad program I was part of years ago did an event called "Cook the Books" where people brought in dishes from literary works. This isn't an original idea though -- google "cook the books" + literary to get more ideas.
posted by pised at 6:31 PM on January 11, 2011

The stew in The Tawny Scrawny Lion is made from freshwater fish, carrots and herbs.

The Magic Pudding includes a pottage / stew / pudding affair that could be described as 'far fetched'. I suppose you could make a stew from bread, oil, carrots, lobster, onion, snails, fat, Irish stew, and sausage. You could probably even make it taste good.

”And there this fearful, frightful man,
A sight to set you quaking,
With pot and pan and curse and ban,
Began a puddin’ making.

”’Twas made of buns and boiling oil,
A carrot and some nails-O!
A lobster’s claws, the knobs off doors,
An onion and some snails-O!

”A pound of fat, an old man rat,
A pint of kerosene-O!
A box of tacks, some cobbler’s wax,
Some gum and glycerine-0!

”Gunpowder too, a hob-nailed shoe,
He stirred into his pottage;
Some Irish stew, a pound of glue,
A high explosive sausage.

”The deed was done, that frightful one,
With glare of vulture famished,
Blew out the light, and in the night
Gave several howls, and vanished.

”Our thieving lout, ensconced without,
Came through the window slinking;
He grabbed the pot and on the spot
Began to eat like winking.

”He ate the lot, this guzzling sot
Such appetite amazes–
Until those high explosives wrought
Within his tum a loud report,
And blew him all to blazes.

”For him who steals ill-gotten meals
Our moral is a good un.
We hope he feels that it reveals
The danger he is stood in
Who steals a high explosive bomb,
Mistaking it for Puddin’.”
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:47 PM on January 11, 2011

There's a bunch of recipes in Like Water for Chocolate, but I can't remember if any are for soups/stews. Great book, though
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

2nding the redwall book recipes. i grew up mouthwatering over reading about those. i'll have to find this recipe book and never leave my kitchen again.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 8:13 PM on January 11, 2011

posted by assasinatdbeauty at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2011

Dragonlover's Guide to Pern has a recipe for "herdbeast stew" that I remember being pretty good, back in the sixth grade? Possibly some other recipes too.
posted by ista at 9:49 PM on January 11, 2011

In James Clavell's King Rat, Corporal King makes some dog stew!
The water simmered gently, making the delicate little beans soar crescentlike to the surface, then cascade back into the depths of the liquid. A puff of steam effervesced, bringing with it the true richness of the meatbuds. The King leaned forward and threw in a handful of native herbs, turmeric, kajang, huan, taka and cloves and garlic, and this added to the perfume.

When the stew had been bubbling ten minutes, the King put the green papaya into the pot.

"Crazy," he said. "A feller could make a fortune after the war if he could figure a way to dehydrate papaya. Now that'd tenderize a buffalo!"

"The Malays've always used it," Mac answered, but no one was really listening to him and he wasn't listening to himself really, for the steam - rich, sweet surrounded them.

The sweat dribbled down their chests and chins and legs and arms. But they hardly noticed the sweat or the closeness. They only knew that this was not a dream, that meat was cooking — there before their eyes, and soon, very soon they would eat.

"Where'd you get it?" asked Peter Marlowe, not really caring. He just had to say something to break the suffocating spell.

"It's Hawkins' dog," answered the King, not thinking about anything except my God does that smell good or does that smell good!
Bon appetit!
posted by Bokmakierie at 10:24 PM on January 11, 2011

Heston Blumenthal makes mock turtle soup (involving a cow's head) as part of an Alice in Wonderland-inspired Victorian-era feast in one episode of his TV show Heston's Feast.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 3:00 AM on January 12, 2011

Seconding ista's comment! Dragonlover's Guide to Pern is full of fun recipes from the book. I remember being so tickled that I could make food from my favorite series of books as a nerdy preteen. I remember the "bubblies" recipe being awesome, though its' not soup.
posted by ninjakins at 7:47 AM on January 12, 2011

There's an Irish Stew recipe in The Debt to Pleasure

as well as lots of other ace quasi-recipes like in the equally essential "Like Water for Chocolate"

(er and also the rabbit stew in LOTR, if that''s weird enough...)
posted by runincircles at 3:40 AM on January 13, 2011

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