There was a European folktale of a hungry traveler who came to a village with a soup pot. No one there would give him any food. He told an old woman that he would make soup from a stone. He conned her into an ingredient. Word traveled quickly and others became interested in the curious soup. Each person that approached the traveler was talked into adding something that would make it better. A carrot, potato, other vegetables, and spices went into the pot. Eventually, there were many ingredients added as the pot of soup cooked.
Like many folktales, this one had a lesson. It was to teach children about cooperation when there is scarcity. It also revealed a very clever character, the traveler. I know a very clever character. She’s actually a home school mom who is a friend of mine. She’s one of those people who come up with ideas that leave the rest of us in awe. My friend had a Stone Soup Party. She invited other families to bring ingredients and everyone added them to a large stockpot. One family brought canned tomatoes, another some onions, while others brought corn, carrots, stock, and anything else needed to make vegetable soup. The clever mom told each guest what they needed to bring so the soup would turn out good. While the pot boiled away, the families played board games, did puzzles, and the Stone Soup Story was also read aloud.
When the soup was ready, the hostess served it with someone’s contribution of bread and later a dessert. This idea might not fit everyone’s way of entertaining, but I think it’s a creative way for families to interact. It could also be a good lesson on cooperation for small children.
You’re probably wondering about the stone. The stone can be present at the event, but I would not put it in the soup.*
The one tip she gave me was to make sure that more than one family brings each thing. That way, if junior gets a sore throat and someone cancels last minute, there would still be someone to bring each ingredient.
Let us know if you have a Stone Soup Party!
*Legal Disclaimer: This is the part where the lawyer in the thick glasses warns you of the inherent dangers of stones in soup. Since we don’t want anyone choking, or eating some crumbly particles from a stone, please don’t put one in your soup. Leave that behavior to story characters.
Patrice blogs at Everyday Ruralty.
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Brenda H. says:
What a great story. That would be a fun evening. What a great way to bring friends and neighbors together. Thanks for the post.
On September 27, 2010 at 11:20 am
I really love this idea!
On September 27, 2010 at 11:57 am
Vicki in So. CA says:
Many years ago Disney put out a series of books with stories such as “Mickey and the Beansalk,” “The Musicians of Bremmen,” and other classics, but with Disney characters in place of the originals. My mom saved them from my childhood. “Button Soup” features Daisy going to stay with her stingy Uncle Scrooge, who would not give her any food for soup. She made button soup in the same fashion as stone soup. My grandsons have had me read that story to them over and over. They love it!
On September 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm
This is a wonderful idea! It would make a great neighborhood dinner also!
Thank you for the post, Patrice 🙂
On September 28, 2010 at 6:53 am
When I was a nursery school teacher, our school was not allowed to celebrate Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, etc, so we used a “Homes and Families” curriculum the week before our “Winter Break” (read Christmas) started. Each child brought in a vegetable of their choice (we had backup vegetables in case someone forgot). We collected a large SMOOTH stone that we scrubbed and boiled in water first before putting it in our soup. The children chopped the vegetables and it simmered in the pot all morning. About half an hour before class ended, parents were invited to join us for soup and biscuits.
We sang a song we made up about stone soup and read several versions of the story that were from other countries.
Parents always asked for the recipe which consisted of canned chicken broth and whatever vegetables the children brought in. It was really one of the highlights of the school year.
On September 28, 2010 at 10:17 am
Sheryl - Runningtrails says:
This is a great idea! I have heard this story before but never seen it used in real life. Good idea for a dinner party! You could probably put the stone the stone in the soup if you knew what it was made of, scrubbed and disinfected it first.
On September 28, 2010 at 11:48 am
Every year at the Autumnal Equinox a group of us get together and reenact the story of Stone Soup. Out recipe is simple; everyone brings a vegetable of choice…with the broth bubbling, we all cut up our vegies and put them in the pot with all our intentions and hopes and wishes for the coming year, We talk and party for a while then eat the soup. Its goodness fills us up and brings us together with optimistic dreams for our future. Everyone looks forward to our gathering each year.
On September 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm
I remember hearing that story 🙂 , we also had a version of it that I had on the front of my fridge for awhile :).
On January 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm
If you choose a nice hard river stone that is worn smooth from eons of tumbling around a river bottom there will be no particles. We had a couple of cows that needed a stone in their feed trough to slow them down cause when they finished eating you were through milking. So the stone went into their feed bucket and they had to work around it. A bone in a soup bowl does the same thing for a teenager.
On January 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm