A culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and the joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food world ethos, especially in Vermont.

amuse bouche

I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:

We can dramatically increase global food availability and environmental sustainability by using more of our crops to feed people directly and less to fatten livestock.
—Jonathan A. Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment, U of MN

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
—Michael Pollan

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.
—Craig Claiborne

People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than those of us eating a modern Western diet of processed food.
—Michael Pollan

Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup

unnamed-2

True Enjoyment
To listen to Tim Elliott describe the proper way to prepare lettuce for a salad is to listen to a man who loves vegetables. The color, the smell, the beauty of lettuce freshly picked from the garden makes him smile. He talks about the tender leaves easily crushed if not handled gently and the importance of washing them carefully and thoroughly before storing in a container that doesn’t pack them down. His enthusiastic description also reminds me that in certain ways, we in America, have not only lost the true enjoyment of eating real food, but the true enjoyment of preparing real food, as well.

“You can tell what’s happy and what’s not. You have to treat it like a living thing”, Tim explained. Natalie and I sat at a table in the window of Muddy Waters, the iconic café on Main St., listening to Tim, a partner at the equally iconic restaurant, Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, whose life in food might well be the perfect template for the exciting culinary world that is Burlington, Vermont, in 2016.

unnamed

Cafeteria-style
Tim and his partner, Avery Rifkin, have run their restaurant on College Street just off the city’s pedestrian mall, a vital heart of urban energy, since 1997. Their intuitive leap into combining forces to run a restaurant together brought something to the food scene here that hadn’t been done before. Not only is the restaurant a cafeteria-style eatery, it is also small enough and intimate enough to encourage its patrons to consider it a second home. Stone Soup feeds the residents of the neighborhood, as well as downtown business people, tourists, and students from nearby colleges and the University of Vermont.

Tim agrees that most people don’t have time to really cook. Stone Soup, with its fairly priced (after choosing from a selection of main dishes and sides, diners have their plates weighed and priced accordingly) menu selections, is the best alternative to a home-cooked meal that I know. A family of four can dine for under $50 at Stone Soup.  In my mind that beats bringing home a luke-warm pizza or heating-up even the best Thai noodle soup from a local Asian take-out.

unnamed-6

Homesteaders
Tim was raised by “homesteaders”, his description of his parents, who were living a life very much influenced by the Nearings, Helen and Scott, the fabled back-to-the land” promoters whose lifestyle influenced so many to live “off the grid” back in the 1970s. Tim’s family was living in a home they built themselves with enough of a garden to grow most of their own food in Hancock, New Hampshire, long before it became a trend.  As vegetarians, they raised their own produce to put meals on the table.  Bill and Eileen Elliott are still living off the land in the house that Tim grew up in.  He readily admits he sees his parents’ marriage and partnership as the one he most aspires to even though his choice of lifestyle revolves around a restaurant, a business partner, a multitude of faithful customers and a loyal staff.

After recognizing that college was not for him, Tim fell into the fast paced restaurant business—“if I’m not moving, I’m sleeping”. After the usual dishwashing jobs, he wound up running the deli department for Organum, a popular vegetarian restaurant and health food store in Burlington during the 90s. Not a surprise since he’d been raised a vegetarian and only converted to meat-eating when he couldn’t say “no” to a salmon dinner made by a friend and colleague.

unnamed-3

In A Good Way
When you walk into Stone Soup it feels a little like a place that’s been there a long time. From the hand-painted sign above the garage door façade, to the tin ceiling, to all the beautiful and locally-made wooden tables, the gorgeously heavy and ornately carved serving counter, the hand-forged wrought-iron tiered display trays offering desserts made onsite, there’s a sense that you’ve walked back in time…but, in a good way!

unnamed-1

Perfect Imperfection
There isn’t another restaurant in the world that you can compare it to, at least not one that I’ve eaten in. Nowhere else have I found the combination of refined esthetic and perfect “imperfection” that is found here. The eye has fun taking in a breakfront that sits between the front dining space and the back. It was made for the restaurant some 18-years ago, but it could have been found in one of those country auction houses selling good 19th century antiques.  It’s embellished with a stained-glass panel at the top and trailing ivy decorating the side shelves that hold silverware and glasses.  It commands attention and sets the tone for the calm and generous experience of sitting down at Stone Soup with a plate of real food.

This breakfront is also the gateway for all the suppliers who bring their wares to the restaurant.  Early morning is the usual time for farmers to bring their produce, meat and eggs to Stone Soup, but it’s not surprising to see Dave Quickel from Stony Loam Farm walk in with tender lettuce just picked before lunch giving the staff an edge on every other eatery in town as far as freshness goes.

The owners appreciate that it’ s a treat for their customers to see the food come into the kitchen wide open to the dining room. They have been buying locally since the first week in 1997, beating the competition in what is now the local and organic movement.  “It wasn’t a movement when we began.  It’s what we wanted to do,” says Rifkin.  

unnamed-4

Follow the story of Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup in our next post, and find out why the menu is one of the best in the city of Burlington. And, learn why Avery Rifkin is the reason why Stone Soup isn’t a vegetarian restaurant.

Posted: 3-20-2016

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True Enjoyment
To listen to Tim Elliott describe the proper way to prepare lettuce for a salad is to listen to a man who loves vegetables. The color, the smell, the beauty of lettuce freshly picked from the garden makes him smile. He talks about the tender leaves easily crushed if not handled gently and the importance of washing them carefully and thoroughly before storing in a container that doesn’t pack them down. His enthusiastic description also reminds me that in certain ways, we in America, have not only lost the true enjoyment of eating real food, but the true enjoyment of preparing real food, as well.

“You can tell what’s happy and what’s not. You have to treat it like a living thing”, Tim explained. Natalie and I sat at a table in the window of Muddy Waters, the iconic café on Main St., listening to Tim, a partner at the equally iconic restaurant, Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, whose life in food might well be the perfect template for the exciting culinary world that is Burlington, Vermont, in 2016.

unnamed

Cafeteria-style
Tim and his partner, Avery Rifkin, have run their restaurant on College Street just off the city’s pedestrian mall, a vital heart of urban energy, since 1997. Their intuitive leap into combining forces to run a restaurant together brought something to the food scene here that hadn’t been done before. Not only is the restaurant a cafeteria-style eatery, it is also small enough and intimate enough to encourage its patrons to consider it a second home. Stone Soup feeds the residents of the neighborhood, as well as downtown business people, tourists, and students from nearby colleges and the University of Vermont.

Tim agrees that most people don’t have time to really cook. Stone Soup, with its fairly priced (after choosing from a selection of main dishes and sides, diners have their plates weighed and priced accordingly) menu selections, is the best alternative to a home-cooked meal that I know. A family of four can dine for under $50 at Stone Soup.  In my mind that beats bringing home a luke-warm pizza or heating-up even the best Thai noodle soup from a local Asian take-out.

unnamed-6

Homesteaders
Tim was raised by “homesteaders”, his description of his parents, who were living a life very much influenced by the Nearings, Helen and Scott, the fabled back-to-the land” promoters whose lifestyle influenced so many to live “off the grid” back in the 1970s. Tim’s family was living in a home they built themselves with enough of a garden to grow most of their own food in Hancock, New Hampshire, long before it became a trend.  As vegetarians, they raised their own produce to put meals on the table.  Bill and Eileen Elliott are still living off the land in the house that Tim grew up in.  He readily admits he sees his parents’ marriage and partnership as the one he most aspires to even though his choice of lifestyle revolves around a restaurant, a business partner, a multitude of faithful customers and a loyal staff.

After recognizing that college was not for him, Tim fell into the fast paced restaurant business—“if I’m not moving, I’m sleeping”. After the usual dishwashing jobs, he wound up running the deli department for Organum, a popular vegetarian restaurant and health food store in Burlington during the 90s. Not a surprise since he’d been raised a vegetarian and only converted to meat-eating when he couldn’t say “no” to a salmon dinner made by a friend and colleague.

unnamed-3

In A Good Way
When you walk into Stone Soup it feels a little like a place that’s been there a long time. From the hand-painted sign above the garage door façade, to the tin ceiling, to all the beautiful and locally-made wooden tables, the gorgeously heavy and ornately carved serving counter, the hand-forged wrought-iron tiered display trays offering desserts made onsite, there’s a sense that you’ve walked back in time…but, in a good way!

unnamed-1

Perfect Imperfection
There isn’t another restaurant in the world that you can compare it to, at least not one that I’ve eaten in. Nowhere else have I found the combination of refined esthetic and perfect “imperfection” that is found here. The eye has fun taking in a breakfront that sits between the front dining space and the back. It was made for the restaurant some 18-years ago, but it could have been found in one of those country auction houses selling good 19th century antiques.  It’s embellished with a stained-glass panel at the top and trailing ivy decorating the side shelves that hold silverware and glasses.  It commands attention and sets the tone for the calm and generous experience of sitting down at Stone Soup with a plate of real food.

This breakfront is also the gateway for all the suppliers who bring their wares to the restaurant.  Early morning is the usual time for farmers to bring their produce, meat and eggs to Stone Soup, but it’s not surprising to see Dave Quickel from Stony Loam Farm walk in with tender lettuce just picked before lunch giving the staff an edge on every other eatery in town as far as freshness goes.

 The owners appreciate that it’ s a treat for their customers to see the food come into the kitchen wide open to the dining room. They have been buying locally since the first week in 1997, beating the competition in what is now the local and organic movement.  “It wasn’t a movement when we began.  It’s what we wanted to do,” says Rifkin.  

unnamed-4

Follow the story of Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup in our next post, and find out why the menu is one of the best in the city of Burlington. And, learn why Avery Rifkin is the reason why Stone Soup isn’t a vegetarian restaurant."
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True Enjoyment
To listen to Tim Elliott describe the proper way to prepare lettuce for a salad is to listen to a man who loves vegetables. The color, the smell, the beauty of lettuce freshly picked from the garden makes him smile. He talks about the tender leaves easily crushed if not handled gently and the importance of washing them carefully and thoroughly before storing in a container that doesn’t pack them down. His enthusiastic description also reminds me that in certain ways, we in America, have not only lost the true enjoyment of eating real food, but the true enjoyment of preparing real food, as well.

“You can tell what’s happy and what’s not. You have to treat it like a living thing”, Tim explained. Natalie and I sat at a table in the window of Muddy Waters, the iconic café on Main St., listening to Tim, a partner at the equally iconic restaurant, Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, whose life in food might well be the perfect template for the exciting culinary world that is Burlington, Vermont, in 2016.

unnamed

Cafeteria-style
Tim and his partner, Avery Rifkin, have run their restaurant on College Street just off the city’s pedestrian mall, a vital heart of urban energy, since 1997. Their intuitive leap into combining forces to run a restaurant together brought something to the food scene here that hadn’t been done before. Not only is the restaurant a cafeteria-style eatery, it is also small enough and intimate enough to encourage its patrons to consider it a second home. Stone Soup feeds the residents of the neighborhood, as well as downtown business people, tourists, and students from nearby colleges and the University of Vermont.

Tim agrees that most people don’t have time to really cook. Stone Soup, with its fairly priced (after choosing from a selection of main dishes and sides, diners have their plates weighed and priced accordingly) menu selections, is the best alternative to a home-cooked meal that I know. A family of four can dine for under $50 at Stone Soup.  In my mind that beats bringing home a luke-warm pizza or heating-up even the best Thai noodle soup from a local Asian take-out.

unnamed-6

Homesteaders
Tim was raised by “homesteaders”, his description of his parents, who were living a life very much influenced by the Nearings, Helen and Scott, the fabled back-to-the land” promoters whose lifestyle influenced so many to live “off the grid” back in the 1970s. Tim’s family was living in a home they built themselves with enough of a garden to grow most of their own food in Hancock, New Hampshire, long before it became a trend.  As vegetarians, they raised their own produce to put meals on the table.  Bill and Eileen Elliott are still living off the land in the house that Tim grew up in.  He readily admits he sees his parents’ marriage and partnership as the one he most aspires to even though his choice of lifestyle revolves around a restaurant, a business partner, a multitude of faithful customers and a loyal staff.

After recognizing that college was not for him, Tim fell into the fast paced restaurant business—“if I’m not moving, I’m sleeping”. After the usual dishwashing jobs, he wound up running the deli department for Organum, a popular vegetarian restaurant and health food store in Burlington during the 90s. Not a surprise since he’d been raised a vegetarian and only converted to meat-eating when he couldn’t say “no” to a salmon dinner made by a friend and colleague.

unnamed-3

In A Good Way
When you walk into Stone Soup it feels a little like a place that’s been there a long time. From the hand-painted sign above the garage door façade, to the tin ceiling, to all the beautiful and locally-made wooden tables, the gorgeously heavy and ornately carved serving counter, the hand-forged wrought-iron tiered display trays offering desserts made onsite, there’s a sense that you’ve walked back in time…but, in a good way!

unnamed-1

Perfect Imperfection
There isn’t another restaurant in the world that you can compare it to, at least not one that I’ve eaten in. Nowhere else have I found the combination of refined esthetic and perfect “imperfection” that is found here. The eye has fun taking in a breakfront that sits between the front dining space and the back. It was made for the restaurant some 18-years ago, but it could have been found in one of those country auction houses selling good 19th century antiques.  It’s embellished with a stained-glass panel at the top and trailing ivy decorating the side shelves that hold silverware and glasses.  It commands attention and sets the tone for the calm and generous experience of sitting down at Stone Soup with a plate of real food.

This breakfront is also the gateway for all the suppliers who bring their wares to the restaurant.  Early morning is the usual time for farmers to bring their produce, meat and eggs to Stone Soup, but it’s not surprising to see Dave Quickel from Stony Loam Farm walk in with tender lettuce just picked before lunch giving the staff an edge on every other eatery in town as far as freshness goes.

 The owners appreciate that it’ s a treat for their customers to see the food come into the kitchen wide open to the dining room. They have been buying locally since the first week in 1997, beating the competition in what is now the local and organic movement.  “It wasn’t a movement when we began.  It’s what we wanted to do,” says Rifkin.  

unnamed-4

Follow the story of Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup in our next post, and find out why the menu is one of the best in the city of Burlington. And, learn why Avery Rifkin is the reason why Stone Soup isn’t a vegetarian restaurant."
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True Enjoyment
To listen to Tim Elliott describe the proper way to prepare lettuce for a salad is to listen to a man who loves vegetables. The color, the smell, the beauty of lettuce freshly picked from the garden makes him smile. He talks about the tender leaves easily crushed if not handled gently and the importance of washing them carefully and thoroughly before storing in a container that doesn’t pack them down. His enthusiastic description also reminds me that in certain ways, we in America, have not only lost the true enjoyment of eating real food, but the true enjoyment of preparing real food, as well.

“You can tell what’s happy and what’s not. You have to treat it like a living thing”, Tim explained. Natalie and I sat at a table in the window of Muddy Waters, the iconic café on Main St., listening to Tim, a partner at the equally iconic restaurant, Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, whose life in food might well be the perfect template for the exciting culinary world that is Burlington, Vermont, in 2016.

unnamed

Cafeteria-style
Tim and his partner, Avery Rifkin, have run their restaurant on College Street just off the city’s pedestrian mall, a vital heart of urban energy, since 1997. Their intuitive leap into combining forces to run a restaurant together brought something to the food scene here that hadn’t been done before. Not only is the restaurant a cafeteria-style eatery, it is also small enough and intimate enough to encourage its patrons to consider it a second home. Stone Soup feeds the residents of the neighborhood, as well as downtown business people, tourists, and students from nearby colleges and the University of Vermont.

Tim agrees that most people don’t have time to really cook. Stone Soup, with its fairly priced (after choosing from a selection of main dishes and sides, diners have their plates weighed and priced accordingly) menu selections, is the best alternative to a home-cooked meal that I know. A family of four can dine for under $50 at Stone Soup.  In my mind that beats bringing home a luke-warm pizza or heating-up even the best Thai noodle soup from a local Asian take-out.

unnamed-6

Homesteaders
Tim was raised by “homesteaders”, his description of his parents, who were living a life very much influenced by the Nearings, Helen and Scott, the fabled back-to-the land” promoters whose lifestyle influenced so many to live “off the grid” back in the 1970s. Tim’s family was living in a home they built themselves with enough of a garden to grow most of their own food in Hancock, New Hampshire, long before it became a trend.  As vegetarians, they raised their own produce to put meals on the table.  Bill and Eileen Elliott are still living off the land in the house that Tim grew up in.  He readily admits he sees his parents’ marriage and partnership as the one he most aspires to even though his choice of lifestyle revolves around a restaurant, a business partner, a multitude of faithful customers and a loyal staff.

After recognizing that college was not for him, Tim fell into the fast paced restaurant business—“if I’m not moving, I’m sleeping”. After the usual dishwashing jobs, he wound up running the deli department for Organum, a popular vegetarian restaurant and health food store in Burlington during the 90s. Not a surprise since he’d been raised a vegetarian and only converted to meat-eating when he couldn’t say “no” to a salmon dinner made by a friend and colleague.

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In A Good Way
When you walk into Stone Soup it feels a little like a place that’s been there a long time. From the hand-painted sign above the garage door façade, to the tin ceiling, to all the beautiful and locally-made wooden tables, the gorgeously heavy and ornately carved serving counter, the hand-forged wrought-iron tiered display trays offering desserts made onsite, there’s a sense that you’ve walked back in time…but, in a good way!

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Perfect Imperfection
There isn’t another restaurant in the world that you can compare it to, at least not one that I’ve eaten in. Nowhere else have I found the combination of refined esthetic and perfect “imperfection” that is found here. The eye has fun taking in a breakfront that sits between the front dining space and the back. It was made for the restaurant some 18-years ago, but it could have been found in one of those country auction houses selling good 19th century antiques.  It’s embellished with a stained-glass panel at the top and trailing ivy decorating the side shelves that hold silverware and glasses.  It commands attention and sets the tone for the calm and generous experience of sitting down at Stone Soup with a plate of real food.

This breakfront is also the gateway for all the suppliers who bring their wares to the restaurant.  Early morning is the usual time for farmers to bring their produce, meat and eggs to Stone Soup, but it’s not surprising to see Dave Quickel from Stony Loam Farm walk in with tender lettuce just picked before lunch giving the staff an edge on every other eatery in town as far as freshness goes.

 The owners appreciate that it’ s a treat for their customers to see the food come into the kitchen wide open to the dining room. They have been buying locally since the first week in 1997, beating the competition in what is now the local and organic movement.  “It wasn’t a movement when we began.  It’s what we wanted to do,” says Rifkin.  

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Follow the story of Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup in our next post, and find out why the menu is one of the best in the city of Burlington. And, learn why Avery Rifkin is the reason why Stone Soup isn’t a vegetarian restaurant."
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4 Responses to “Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup”

  1. Margo Davis says:

    Just want to say that during my last visit to Bronwyn, we had an over-the-top delicious meal at Stone Soup!!! I have traveled all over the world….Avery and Tim have created a special sanctum sanctorum of wonderful food.

    Margo

  2. Janet Biehl says:

    My favorite restaurant in Burlington–a true home away from home, where my friends and I have passed many a delightful dinner hour.

  3. Christine Junkins says:

    I ate at Stone Soup last summer while visiting Burlington.
    I loved the atmosphere and the amazing food choices!
    I had a delicious and nutritious lunch.

  4. Matthew Cronkite says:

    I love your description of the food, atmosphere and overall excellence of Stone Soup! I have yet to eat there, but it is now at the top of my list for my next visit to Burlington!

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