Alabama Stone Soup


Just like in the old folk tale, this stone soup recipe feeds a crowd. While you could start with homemade stock, this bean soup calls for purchased chicken stock to speed up prep time a bit.

Alabama Stone Soup
Hands On Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 15 mins
24 cups


  • 1 cup firm dried field peas (such as Anson Mills Sea Island red peas), black-eyed peas, or other desired beans

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 meaty ham hock

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more to butter dish

  • ½ cup Carolina Gold rice (or long grain rice)

  • 12 cup chicken stock

  • 1 meaty ham hock

  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoon butter

  • 3 cup diced onion

  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

  • 3 fresh bay leaves

  • 2 cup carrots (peeled, sliced 1/3 inch thick)

  • 2 cup rutabaga (peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes)

  • 3 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained

  • 2 cup pumpkin (peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes)

  • 2 ½ cup hearty greens, such as collard or kale (stemmed and chopped into 1½-inch pieces)


For Peas

  1. Sort peas, removing any foreign objects or broken peas. In a large bowl cover peas with water; soak 2 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse well, and drain again. Transfer peas and ham hock to a large pot filled with water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 45 minutes or until peas are tender but not mushy, stirring occasionally. Drain; discard ham hock. Season peas with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Let peas cool. Set aside. (If making ahead, drain peas, reserving liquid. Discard ham hock. Season peas as above. Cool peas and liquid separately. Return peas to liquid to chill, covered, up to 3 days. Drain peas and discard liquid before adding to soup.)

For Rice

  1. In a 3-qt. pot bring 4 cups water to boiling. Add 1 Tbsp. of the butter and 1½ tsp. kosher salt. Stir in rice; return to boiling, stirring often. Boil, uncovered, 15 minutes or until rice is just tender. Meanwhile, butter a rectangular baking dish; set aside. Drain rice, reserving cooking liquid. Transfer rice to buttered dish. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. butter; season to taste with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using two forks, toss to combine butter with rice. Let rice cool completely, fluffing occasionally. (This prevents rice on bottom from continuing to cook and clump.) Set rice and reserved rice cooking liquid aside. (If making ahead, cover and chill cooled rice and reserved liquid separately, up to 1 day.)

For Broth

  1. In an 8- to 10-qt. pot bring chicken stock and ham hock to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 1 hour. Meanwhile, halve each garlic clove lengthwise, remove the greenish germ at center, and thinly slice each half; sprinkle with kosher salt. Let garlic sit at least 15 minutes.

For Onions

  1. In a large skillet heat olive oil and butter on low until melted; add onion. Season generously with additional kosher salt. Cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; don't let onions brown. Add salted garlic, Aleppo pepper, and bay leaves; season with freshly ground black pepper. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring well. Add onions to broth, then "rinse" skillet with a few ladles of broth to get all flavor back into soup.

For Vegetables

  1. Add carrots and rutabaga; bring to a simmer. Stir in tomatoes. Continue simmering; taste for seasoning after 5 minutes. Add peas and pumpkin; bring to boiling. Stir in greens. Add rice and its reserved liquid. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables and greens are tender. Season to taste.

Recipe Notes:

This is a very flexible recipe that can be taken in many different directions according to preference and availability of seasonal ingredients.

The key to success is building a very flavorful broth as the base and to then at every step of the way coax as much flavor as possible out of the different components.

Also, sprinkling sliced garlic with salt and allowing it to sit before adding to the onions, etc. The salt helps draw out and distribute flavor, which of course results in a better tasting soup.

When I'm making this soup I know that I'm going to be adding lots of unseasoned vegetables, so I make a point of seasoning the broth and sauteed onions very highly, even overly so, because I know that the root vegetables and greens, etc, are going to absorb the seasoning once they are added.

There is always final adjusting of seasoning near the end, but the more you do beforehand and along the way the better the soup will be.

I like to make this soup on the brothy side, so all the vegetables and grains can move around and be tasted in different combinations.

No two spoonfuls are the same. But you could easily make it into much more of a stew by decreasing the amount of broth or increasing quantities of vegetables. And though I use meat as a flavoring agent to create the base of the soup, I typically do not add meat to the soup, primarily because by the time you created a rich and flavorful broth, there is no flavor left in the meat with which it was made. But you could easily add roasted and braised meats to the pot near the end with delicious results.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

196 Calories
8g Fat
26g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 196
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 1069mg 46%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 33.3mg 167%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 584mg 12%
Folate, total 70.7mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.2mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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