Stone Soup

by Michelle on January 9, 2011


Once upon a time…..

In a small village in Northern Europe there was a terrible drought. Food was scarce and most people hoarded what little food they had, not even sharing with their friends and neighbors. Times were very hard and the villagers were becoming suspicious of everything and everyone.

One day three soldiers wandered into the village and the soldiers were tired and very hungry. One soldier walked into the small store and asked if they could spare a few potatoes and he was told, “There’s not a bite to eat in the entire village. Better keep moving on.”

Then they walked up to a small farmhouse and knocked on the door. One of the soldiers kindly asked if they had any bread but again they were told, “I barely have enough to feed my own children and can not spare even one crust of bread. Better keep moving on.”

Seeing an elderly woman sitting on the porch, one soldier asked if he could borrow a large, iron pot. The women asked “Now what in the world are you going to do with a big iron pot?” The soldier said “Well, I’m going to make some Stone Soup! If you have a large pot I can borrow, I will share my soup with you and your family.” The woman curiosity got the best of her and she quickly went to her kitchen and returned with a big, black iron pot and handed it to one of the soldiers.

The soldiers took the pot and began walking towards the center of the village, telling everyone they passed “Come along! We’re going to make some delicious Stone Soup and everyone is invited to join us for dinner”.

The townspeople had never heard of making soup from stones and thought it was a ridiculous idea. But the soldiers sounded so convincing and excited about the Stone Soup that they followed along laughing about making soup from a stone!

When the soldiers reached the town square, they built a huge fire and hung the iron pot and filled it with water. Once the water began to boil, each soldier dropped a large stone into the pot. The crowd watching the soldiers was now quite large and each were amazed and could not believe the soldiers were actually going to make soup from a stone.

But then one of the soldiers said, “You know what would make the stone soup really good is a hefty dash of salt and pepper.” One of the men in crowd said “I have some salt and pepper. I’ll run home and get it and be back in a minute or two.” And he ran off and returned with the salt and pepper which was added to the pot of simmering stone soup.

Then one of the soldiers said, “I like carrots in my Stone Soup, I wish we had some.” This time an older women in a red apron said “I have some carrots I can spare and some parsnips too, I’ll go get them.” Once the woman returned with the carrots and parsnips, they were chopped and added to the pot.

A young man in the group said, “I have some corn ready for harvest, would that be good in the soup?” One of the soldiers said, “Yes the corn would add a delightful flavor! The young man raced off and returned with a small sack of yellow corn and he added it to the soup.

One child in the crowd said “Mother, don’t we have some fresh herbs that we could add to the soup?” And the Mother said “Well, yes we do. Please go and gather some herbs from my garden and come back as soon as you can.” The boy jumped up and before long he came back with a small basket of fresh basil, marjoram, parsley, garlic and thyme. One of the soldiers minced up the herbs and added them to pot.

Well, the Stone Soup was starting to smell pretty good by this time and the crowd of people was growing larger and nearly every one in the Village was standing watching the pot of simmering Stone Soup.

One man walked up, inspected the pot of soup and said, “Hey I’ve got some potatoes and onions to add, if you think they’d be good.” And one of the soldier’s replied, “The potatoes and onions would work out nicely, please get as many as you can spare.” And the man went and got a wooden bucket of potatoes and onions which were quickly peeled and added to the soup.

Then a man said, “I just happen to have butchered some chickens today and I’d like to add them to the soup too”. One of the soldiers said “The chickens would be delicious in the Stone Soup.” So the man went home and got the chickens and added them to the pot of Soup.

Oh my, the soup was starting to smell very good and every one’s stomach was starting to growl with hunger! The townspeople, now convinced that the soldiers had actually made soup from stones, set up long tables so everyone would have a seat for the big feast. One woman said, “I just baked fresh bread and rolls today. I’ll run home and get it to serve along with the soup.” And she ran home and got all the bread she had just baked and set a basket of freshly baked bread and rolls on each table.

Finally, one of the soldiers tasted the soup and said “I think the soup is ready”. Each person was handed a steaming bowl of Stone Soup and everyone sat down for a big feast. They all ate and danced and sang well into the night and everyone had a great time.

In the morning, the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. A man came forward and said “You have given us the greatest of gifts, the secret of how to make soup from stones. This is a lesson we will never forget and one we will cherish forever.”

A soldier turned to the crowd, smiled and said: “There is no secret to stone soup, but one thing is certain, it takes many people, sharing what they can to make a great feast.”

And this is how I told the story of Stone Soup to my students.

Although I went to college year round, every summer I worked for a local Parks and Recreation Department and I was Supervisor for a Playground. When I started teaching and had my summers off, I still worked for Parks and Recreation and so I worked there a total of 12 years. This was no ordinary Playground. I had access to two large rooms in the grade school and the gym including the equipment room. Plus we had a school bus available at all times for field trips including weekly trips to the community pool and library and of course every Disney movie released that summer. I had a very popular Playground and had anywhere from 40-60 students a day and the age varied from 5 years old through 11 years old. There were times that I would keep the students all day and I’d have them bring a sack lunch or we would make something for lunch. Two of our most popular in-house lunches were Dagwood Sandwich Day and Stone Soup. But Stone Soup day was by far the most popular and I started holding it twice a summer.

I would send home a weekly schedule with all our activities listed so the students would be prepared for each day. On Stone Soup day I just had the kids bring a vegetable and a beverage of their choice. It didn’t matter if the vegetable was canned or fresh, it went in the pot! Using two whole chickens, I would make some chicken stock for the soup base, then strip the meat from the bone and add it to the stock. As I told the Stone Soup story each child would walk up and add whatever they brought to the pot of simmering stock. It was easy to adapt the story to whatever vegetable the child brought, even green beans! The kids loved the Stone Soup and with each summer, it seemed like the soup was getting more and more popular even to the point of some of the parents joining us for our Stone Soup lunch!

And please, if you are going to do this activity with children, tell them the story, don’t read it. Children would much rather hear a story with your own words then listen to you read them a story from a book. Believe me, even the 11 year olds would sit and wait patiently for me to call their vegetable and they eagerly added it to the pot.

The book “Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown was originally published in 1947 and Captain Kangaroo (played by Bob Keeshan) first read the book on the popular “Captain Kangaroo” Children’s TV Show in the 1950s. And yes, I watched Captain Kangaroo every day and I do remember him reading this story as Grandfather Clock, Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Green Jeans looked on! So although my students had fun at my Playground every summer, I think I had more fun reliving my own childhood memories!

I’ve not made Stone Soup in years and after tasting in again after so long, my gosh it was delicious! No wonder the kids loved it and of course they made it with their own hands!

AllRightsReserved@BigBlackDog

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Comments

  • Alice January 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    This is a most wonderful story, and how good the soup will be!

  • kat January 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    My neighbor hosts a stone soup party every fall. He has a giant pot over a big fire in his back garden. Everyone brings vegetables to throw in the pot. Later we’d all eat soup & bread & gather around as someone told the story aloud. A wonderful tradition.

  • Sheila January 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I knew I liked you! I watched the Captain every single day, too, and I thought this sounded famililar! LOL! Love the story of Stone Soup. I won’t be forgetting this one, Michelle.

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme January 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I’ve always loved the Stone Soup story and yes, I watched Captain Kangaroo every day, too! You’ve got me humming the theme song now :-)

  • tasteofbeirut January 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    When I saw your title I was brought back to my elementary school teaching days and that wonderful story. GReat soup and great story!

  • Shirley January 10, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Now this is really freaky! My son is practising the story of the Stone soup for his Annual day this month and he is one of the travellers! I couldnt believe it when I came across your post. I think I’ll show it to him when he comes home. Great post!

  • naimishika January 10, 2011 at 4:22 am

    I do like soups…. but it is so delicious

  • Tweets that mention Stone Soup -- Topsy.com January 10, 2011 at 6:23 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Safirstein. Michelle Safirstein said: Ever had Stone Soup? It is not only delicious but teaches a valuable lesson in sharing! http://tinyurl.com/26gknhb […]

  • farida January 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Stone Soup ….??? Great post and i love this story

    farida

  • Kathy Gregson January 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I watched Captian Kangaroo too, and I remember that book very well. But, I have never made stone soup! Enjoyed this post, it brought back memories.

  • Daisy January 10, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This is a wonderful classic story, one that today’s children need to hear over and over again. The active participation makes it even better!

  • Siobhan January 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I remember hearing that story when I was small…I also was a Capt. Kangaroo fan! I think it was my Aunt who told me the story though. I loved to sit in the kitchen and watch her cook…

  • Cheryl B. January 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    We always made it in the pre-school I was teachers aid in as well. My boys LOVE that tale!!! Perhaps we’ll have to make the soup the next time everybody is ta home 😉

  • SMITH BITES January 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

    i have always loved this story and have read it many, many times – both as a child and as an adult! terrific looking soup too and considering it’s snowing at the moment and will be all day, soup is extra enticing!

  • Guff January 11, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Captain Kangaroo and Stone Soup. Made me smile. Now do you have any carrots for Bunny Rabbit?

  • Fight the Fat Foodie January 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

    What a great story!

  • Elwood January 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Michelle,
    We have a group here in Louisville called Stone Soup and once a month they meet and everyone brings something and contributes to a dinner. At the last one we attended they had a story teller there, who told the stone soup story. Enjoyable then, and now. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ju January 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Oh, this was my favourite story growing up! And when my daughter was still very young, I told her the story too. And she was so enamoured with it, we had “stone soup” at least once a week! :)

  • Samantha January 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Oh my goodness what a fantastic story! I had never heard of this before but what a beautiful thing you did with those children.

    <3 Samantha

  • Dina January 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    cute! you know i saw a show on mexican food that included a real stone soup, a fish soup made with a large, very hot stone in it.

  • katrina January 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Oh, you told that story so well, Michelle – one of my all time favorites. Your playground’s “Stone Soup” day is a fabulous idea and worth passing on ! Thanks so much!

  • Robyn | Add a Pinch January 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Love this story and the recipe!

  • Suzanne Collier January 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Most excellent! Amazing what can be done when everyone pitches in.

  • Andrea May 2, 2011 at 1:14 am

    In my utensil drawer is a big rock nestled with the slotted spoons and garlic press. When we moved, it was wrapped in paper in a box and transported to our new house. Thanks for the excellent story reminder that it is time we made that soup again!

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