Alabama Stone Soup
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.