Country Lore: "Nail Soup"

"Nail soup" was the answer when one reader thought she had nothing with which to make her family dinner.

| December/January 1993

  • nail soup
    "Nail soup" doesn't really have a nail in it.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • nail soup

Last winter was a financially lean one for us, and one evening my father called while I was struggling with the concept of preparing dinner. As I complained to him about my "empty" refrigerator and pantry, he suggested that I cook a batch of "nail soup." Nail soup?

He proceeded to tell me the recipe: Find a nail for the pot and set it aside. Then look around for a potato or carrot to give the soup "a little substance and flavor." When I told him I did have a potato, he told me to keep looking. "You're bound to have a few more ingredients to add to the pot," he said.

Oh, I did have a little rice left, and a handful of beans, half an onion, some pepper ... I started to get the idea. Smiling, I thanked him and hung up. When I served my family nail soup that night, they enjoyed their dinner so much they asked for seconds. They also had fun trying to find the nail, which, of course, I never used.

Nona Perez
Calistoga, California





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