I needed to tell this story for another purpose and decided to illustrate it with a photo.
An ancient tale: as retold by Dave Stabler
Stone Soup is a tale of a weary traveller who arrives, hungry, in a small community. He goes door to door asking the villagers for scraps of food as he has nothing to eat. At each door he is turned away empty handed.
When he arrives at an old, lonely woman’s door he is given the same reply so he offers to share his meagre food supply with her and share his stone soup. She agrees to let him use her wood stove.
Being a poor old woman she doesn’t have a good pot to make the soup so she leaves to borrow a pot from a neighbour. When she returns, the hungry neighbour returns with her. The traveller asks the newcomer to fetch some water from the local well but when the neighbour returns, a young lad is carrying the water. They put the pot on the stove and pour in the water.
The traveler goes to his pack and takes out a small package wrapped in a cloth and tied with a string. He carefully sets the package on the bench, removes the string and gently unwraps the cloth. The lady, her neighbour and the young lad watch as the traveller gently takes out a small, ordinary looking stone and ceremoniously places it in the iron pot.
Once the pot begins to warm, the traveller makes a quiet comment to himself, but just loud enough for the others to hear, that stone soup is all the better if it has a carrot in it. The boy smiles and says that he knows where a carrot can be found. He rushes out the door, runs home to his mother and tells of the wonderful soup that is being made. They go together to the carrot patch to find a carrot to place in the soup. The two return with the carrot which the traveller carefully slices up with the knife from his sheath and the mother puts the carrot pieces into the pot.
Wondering aloud once more, the traveller makes a wish for a green pepper. The neighbour who supplied the pot states that she knows another who may be able to put their hands on a pepper. She will, of course, have to tell her friend about the soup made using nothing but a stone. When they return, the friend is asked to put the green pepper into the soup to simmer and add its flavour to the mix.
Now, as we all know, a soup with a red pepper has a bit of a warming sensation to it so the traveller makes a statement to that affect. Well; it just happens that the newcomer has seen a red pepper plant growing at a hut down the road so off he goes to see if the owner would be so kind as to supply a red pepper for the soup. When they come back, the red pepper is slipped into the pot which, by now, has simmered for quite a while and has a wonderful aroma filling the small shelter. The elderly woman has made it her task to stir the pot to blend the flavours of the ingredients.
The contributor of the red pepper makes a statement that wild onions are plentiful in the forest but he’ll need to pass his brother’s house along the way. Of course, when he passes his brother’s he knows that his brother will want to know where he is going. He’ll have to tell him what is going on and since his brother’s family has been down on their luck, they are starving and will want to be included. The traveler reluctantly agrees and has to send the neighbour out for more water as there will be so many sharing the soup.
The crowd is now quite large and some of the people decide that since it is such a beautiful day and it is getting crowded in the hut, they’ll start a bonfire outside and move the pot to the fire. The small, once empty, pot is now very full and the smell from it is very inviting. Someone suggests using their large stew pot so a tripod is built and a large iron pot is hung from the tripod over the fire.
Other villagers have noticed the bonfire and the commotion of people around the fire so they begin to appear, asking about what is going on. When told about the aromatic soup being made from nothing but a stone, one of the newcomers, not wanting to be left out, revels that he has been saving a dried tomato for a special occasion. What better than to share with his neighbours. Off he goes to retrieve the tomato.
The traveller starts digging through his small bag. The brother’s young daughter asks what he is looking for and he replies that he thought that he had a piece of dried up garlic clove in the bag. The little girl laughs aloud and sings out that she and her best friend have seen a secret place where garlic can be found. She can’t quite remember exactly where it is so she’ll have to take her friend along to find the garlic. When the two small girls return, her friend’s family is tagging along, eager to see the soup made from a stone.
By the time the man with the tomato returns, some of the other villagers, feeling a bit guilty have gone off to the forest in search of mushrooms to add to the pot. When they return, the mushrooms are plopped into the pot as well.
Now, the soup had simmered since noon and the traveller announced that the stone soup was ready, but for one ingredient. He takes out a small container and from it he very carefully adds a pinch of salt to the large pot.
The soup was dipped into readily awaiting cups which everyone had brought out and they all had a meal which was announced the most excellent soup had by any of them. As the pot came close to empty, the traveller took out the stone, wiped it clean and slipped it back into his pack. The villagers ate, told stories and sat around the fire until well into the evening. When the village awoke the next day the traveller was nowhere to be found, nor was the stone that was the base for the delicious soup.