Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cactus Soup Review and Recipe

We're on Spring Break this week, and our schedule is much more relaxed than normal. Yesterday before lunch, we sat down and worked our way through a stack of library books. Just as hunger struck, we read the book ,Cactus Soup, by Eric A. Kimmel, and we were inspired to create our own version for lunch.

This picture book is a re-telling of the old folk tale, 'Stone Soup'. This particular version is set in Mexico during the time of the Mexican Revolution. As in most versions, the villagers hide their supplies of food when they hear soldiers coming. Then the hungry soldier asks for food and is turned down. The twist here is that instead of claiming to be able to make soup out of a stone or a nail, the soldier asks for a cactus needle to make his soup with.

Soon enough, the hungry villagers are offering hidden tidbits to add to the soup. By the end of the story, there is enough food brought forth for the entire town and the soldiers to have a feast, or rather in this version, a fiesta.

The kids and I enjoyed reading this version. We sort of have a fascination with folktales and how they change a bit with time and geographical location.

It was a great day to attempt this soup at our house. A grocery shopping trip will soon be in order here, and the pickings were pretty slim. We had to substitute a few ingredients mentioned in the story (most notably ham in place of chicken) and sadly we had no cactus needle, but the end result was pretty tasty.

Cactus Soup

1/4 cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp canola oil
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup diced, cooked ham
2 cups frozen corn
2 carrots, diced
5 or 6 mushrooms, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp chives

In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and simmer until softened and slightly golden.

Add canned tomatoes, water, and bouillon cubes and stir well.

Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Serve with tortillas or cheese quesadillas.

12 servings



  1. Looks good and what a fun way to make lunch!

    1. Something about hunger and stories brings out the creativity!

  2. What a great story connection! My son also likes to hear different versions of the same story. We have a great time comparing and contrasting the different stories.

    1. So do we! Sometimes we even write our own versions.

  3. This looks delicious! What a great idea for a book build!

    Thank you so much for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  4. Stopping over from Read.Explore. Learn. Great activity!

  5. Fun story and the soup looks so yummy. We're so glad that you linked up to our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." We hope you'll be back soon. -The Sisters

  6. I love how you matched the story with your cooking, a great adventure and great memory for the kids. Thanks for sharing at Scrumptious Sunday!

    1. We did enjoy ourselves! Thanks for hosting Scrumpious Sunday!