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A reader writes that, "Stearns Farm in Framingham, Massachusetts, is a Community Supported Agriculture Farm and part of our mission is to build a sense of community among the people who buy a share of our harvest, the farmer, and the larger community. We have adopted Stone Soup as a symbol. Twice a week on harvest days the sharers and volunteers bring a contribution, and after a morning of hard work in the fields we sit down to a communal lunch of stone soup. It's great, the folks who used to leave when their required hours were done now stay and make friends."

Ms. Emily, teacher of the oldest 4's at United Advent Christian Church preschool in Wilmington, North Carolina, writes: Every January we have "Slipper Day" and we make Stone Soup. Each child in the oldest classes, 4 and 5 year olds, bring in vegetables to make our soup. We put whatever they bring into the pots, along with stones that I picked up at Goshen Pass, Virginia. We do inside activities where we wear our slippers, and enjoy ourselves as we smell our wonderful soup cooking in the kitchen. Then at lunch time we bless our food, and eat the soup that all of us have made with only a few stones from the river in Virginia. We always make enough to feed the entire staff, three classes of children, and have some to save for a time when there is need of food for a church member or church family. We do use a chicken broth base, but our soup is mostly made of love and enthusiasm."

Stone Soup

Judith Berger, from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, suggested I include this story in my book. She wrote: "As a young mother of meager means, the story Stone Soup had special meaning to my family. We were very short of food, as were many of the other families in our circle of friends. A wonderful evening was created following the recipe of kindness and caring in Stone Soup." For Anna Geddes of Inverness, UK, Stone Soup is a reminder of a different kind: "I was thinking about stone soup...and how my late husband would spend hours boiling up meat, to serve in a sandwich for lunch the next day and throwing in any vegetable he could find cheap, adding soup cereal and come up with a delicacy. He loved it." If there was ever any doubt, this is a soup about love and nurturing human relationships.

  • water
  • 1 stone
  • assorted contributions
Once upon a time, somewhere in Eastern Europe, there was a great famine. People jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a peddlar drove his wagon into a village, sold a few of his wares, and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

"There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on."

"Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew and ordinary looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the peddler sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

"Ahhh," the peddler said to himself rather loudly. "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage, that's hard to beat."

A villager approached hesitantly, looked around, and pulled a small cabbage from under his coat. When he discreetly added it to the pot, the peddler beamed. "Excellent," he cried, "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a little morsel of salt pork, and it was fit for a king."

Then it was the village butcher who approached. He had a little piece of salt pork under his apron. And so it went, some potatoes, some onions. Carrots, mushrooms, and so under. Until there finally was, indeed, a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the peddler a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. And from that time on, long after the famine had ended, the villagers reminisced about the finest soup they'd ever had.