This wonderful tale of Stone Soup was
written by a former cooking teacher I had, Sandi Cooper. Thank you Sandi for all
I learned from you!
Once upon a time there was a poor village in a land at war. There came into the
small hamlet a company of weary soldiers. Tired and hungry, they encamped in the
town near the town square. The villagers trembled, for they had no food to share
with these men, and were afraid the men might cause trouble. Soon the small band
of men uncovered a gigantic pot and began to lay a fire for it. Trudging back
and forth to the town well, they filled the pot with water and set it carefully
on the crackling fire. An old woman, peering from behind a shutter, noticed that
they had dropped a round stone into the pot. Unable to contain her curiosity,
she ventured into the open, approached the cluster of men around the pot, and
after looking in the kettle, "What pray tell, are you cooking there?"
The soldiers looked up and replied, "Stone soup, my good woman, a wondrous dish
and so, so much better if we were to have a single onion or two to drop herein!"
"I am but a poor peasant and have hardly enough to eat for myself," she
answered, "but perhaps there is a sad onion or two on my kitchen shelf". I will
bring them here for your soup if you will share a bowl of your fine repast with
me." They consented, and she quickly disappeared, hungry with anticipation at
As she returned and added the onions, a querulous old man approached and after
looking into the kettle, called out, "What pray tell, are you cooking here?"
"Stone soup, my good man, and a right good banquet it is," they answered, "but
how much better it would be if only we had some simple carrot to add." The poor
man shook his head and replied, "I am but a starving peasant, but perhaps my
good wife has some carrots hidden away for our last bite of food. I would share
them with you if you would share a bowl of your fine soup with me and that good
woman." They nodded appreciatively and awaited the return of the old man, his
old wife and the carrots. After a while, return they did, and added their meager
bounty to the pot.
They all sat down and waited. A young girl with a small basket full of herbs
from the meadow entered the square and joined the group around the large and
bubbling pot. She too was persuaded to add her share and she too waited. One by
one, the hungry peasants of the village came out to see what the excitement was
about. And one by one, they added a few potatoes, a handful of beans, a small
green cabbage and a bone.
There soon appeared in their midst the town butcher, who had long since closed
his door. Huffing and puffing, and mopping his brow with with a large red
handkerchief, he called out, "What is all this commotion? What pray tell, smells
so wonderfully good here in this poor village, which has nothing to eat?" "Stone
soup, Sir," said the soldiers, "a creation fit for a king. All that is lacking
to gibe it truly proportions is a chicken."
Oohs and aahs were heard throughout the crowd of hungry peasants. It is said
that one old woman fainted from the heavenly nature of the thought. The butcher
quietly disappeared. Within a matter of minutes he returned, clutching a scrawny
chicken, his very last, and dropped it, with applause from the crowd, into the
There was a great merriment in the town that night. It had been a long time
since they had laughed and sung and danced - and a very long time since they had
eaten so well. In the morning when the town awoke, the soldiers had packed up
their pot and left the village, leaving behind only the stone.
They marched all day and in the evening entered another small town. They
uncovered their gigantic pot and set about laying a for for it. A nervous old
man approached them and asked, "What pray tell, are you cooking there?" The
soldiers looked up and replied, "Stone soup, my good man, a wondrous dish and
so, so much better if we were to have a single onion or two to drop herein!"
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