Once upon a time, there was a poor village filled with people who did not like to share. They locked their doors and windows tight and kept what little food they had for themselves.
One day, a stranger passed into the village. He was very tired and hungry from his journey. He stopped at the first house and knocked on the door hoping there was food inside.
The woman opened the door only a tiny crack, “Who are you?” the woman asked the stranger.
“I am a tired and hungry traveler,” he responded. “Please, may I have something to eat?”
“There is hardly any food here,” said the woman. “In fact, I doubt who will find anyone who has extra food to spare. We are all poor and hungry too.” The woman closed the door.
The traveler, although he was tired and hungry, was not ready to give up. He picked up a round stone from the ground and knocked once more at the door. The lady came to the door again, opening it only halfway.
“Yes?” she asked. “Since you are poor like me, perhaps you would like to have some of my stone soup!” “Stone soup?” the woman laughed as she looked at the stone in his hand. “You can’t make soup from a stone!” “I’ve done it before,” replied the traveler.
The woman had never seen anyone make soup from a stone before, but since she was hungry too, she invited him in. Then she lit the fire and placed a kettle of water on top and opened the windows to let out some heat. The traveler placed the stone inside the water until it boiled. He sipped a spoonful of hot liquid. “It’s almost done,” he said. “But if you had just a little salt, the soup would taste so much better!”
The woman went to the cupboard and returned with salt. Just as the traveler was pouring them in the pot, the woman’s husband returned home. In his hands were carrots and potatoes. “What are you making?” asked the woman’s husband. “Stone soup!” replied the woman and the traveler.
“Impossible!” shouted the husband.
“It is almost finished,” the traveler assured the husband as he tasted another spoonful. “But it would be even nicer if we added some carrots and potatoes.” Also hungry, the husband agreed and dropped the carrots and potatoes int the pot!
Soon, the smell of the soup drifted out of her house windows and down the lane. One neighbor who usually stayed inside wandered out and followed the smell all the way to the first house, where he heard them talking about the stone soup. “Is the stone soup ready now?” the woman and her husband asked the traveler. “Yes, but it could be even better if we had some turnips and beans!” he replied.
“I have some,” called the neighbor who was watching from the window.
The neighbor, curious to taste the soup that was made from a stone, returned with turnips and beans. He poured them into the pot and the smell drifted even further down the lane.
A word about a stranger traveler making soup out of a single stone drew many villagers out of their homes. They followed the delicious smell. “Is the stone soup ready now?” asked the villagers when they arrived. “Yes, but I remember having stone soup with chicken and broth in the stew once,” he replied.
“I have chicken,” said a farmer who ran home to get some. “I have broth,” exclaimed another neighbor who ran to fetch it. The farmer returned and placed pieces of chicken into the pot. When the other neighbor added the broth, the pot was so full that it almost spilled over. The traveler lifted the spoon to taste it. “Perfect!” he exclaimed. Then, he served a bowl of stone soup for every single one of the villagers to taste.
“It’s magic!” the villagers cried out, seeing how much soup he had made. “Delicious!” cried out another villager. “But where can we get a magic stone? Surely this one has been used up.” The traveler shook his head and pulled the stone out of the pot. The stone was still whole! The villagers realized that the delicious and plentiful soup did not come from the stone.
The traveler drank the leftover soup and went on his journey. At last, from that day on, the villagers shared what they had with each other. And the village became a happy place.
Adapted from a European folk story.