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Pebble Soup

Once upon a time, there was a Franciscan friar who lived poorly, in obeisance to his Order rules. He travelled on foot through all the Earth, having only is habit, his sandals and his travelling baton, bearing the symbols of the peregrine, the shell and the water pumpkin. He was used to look at the sky and watch birds fly, and look at the land and see the marvels of it and of its living children. This friar begged for his food, and ate what people wanted to give him, without complaint, because he needed little food for his body, since he daily had so much food for his soul. One day, however, the friar had been out in the forest for too much time, it was winter and he could not find berries or roots to feed him. He decided to long for the village and ask for some food at the local Inn.

When he arrived there, he noticed people that kept the Inn were not good people, they knew nothing about the love of God or the love of Nature, and never had heard about Saint Francis of Assisi or the Holy Man teachings. He begged for some food, but those in the inn asked him for the money he did not have and mocked on him for being a beggar. Then, the friar asked to stood by the fire and warm his poor tired bones. An old woman had pity on him, because she knew how hard do bones hurt those that have travelled many countries and many years, and she convinced the others to let the old friar warm himself.

In the fireplace, a big iron pot was full of boiling water, as in those ancient times pots of water were always boiling in each fire, just in case they were needed. The friar began to think, and took a small, very round, pink pebble that he had grabbed in some river he had cross. The meaning of that beautiful pebble was its beauty, and the beauty of the river that had rounded her, but the people that kept the inn knew nothing about beauty and rivers crossing, and started asking the friar about the pebble.

Well, this friar was a very sensitive man, so he was a very intuitive man too. He told his hosts he used to make soup with the pink pebble. «Soup?», the others asked, «No one can make pebble soups!» But the friar smiled, and using those people’s ignorance and superstition, he acted mysteriously, like a magician or an alchemist would have. «All I need is a pot of boiling water and some salt… With them and the pebble I will make a delicious soup.» Immediately, the woman that kept the inn took some salt and gave it to the friar. Pompously he poured the salt and the pebble on the water. Some minutes after, everybody was surrounding the pot just to see what happened, the friar took a spoon of boiling salt water and drank it. He had a very delighted smile and the others anxiously asked: «How is it?”. «Very good», the friar answered, «but if I could put some lard on it…» The man that owned the inn took him a good piece of lard. The water, boiling the lard, was much greasier in no time. Second time for trying the soup, the friar said, with a sigh: «Some ham and some meat sausage would make it taste like Heaven’s Soup!» Ham and sausage were boiling in no time. At the third time the friar tasted the soup he was delighted — but still something missing: «Oh, I whish I had some potatoes, cabbages, onions and red beans! This wonderful soup would be much thicker!» No need to tell you that all the vegetables went to meet the pebble at the pot. Some more minutes passed and, at last, the friar was satisfied: «Soup is ready! I invite you all to my pebble soup!» The innkeepers and their clients were astonished! That was the most delicious soup they had ever had, and it was made only of boiling water, salt, and a pink, round pebble. After dinner, the friar took his pebble, cleaned it with his custom and put it on his pocket. He left the village, to meet brother wolf and sister moon at the forest. The villagers still tell stories about the magician that made a soup by boiling a pebble.

Moreover, you now know how to make a Portuguese Soup. Hope you enjoy it, but do not forget to take off the pebble after eating: you might need it some day.

more work by Irene Fialho

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