Stone Soup

When my youngest son was in Kindergarten I helped the teacher organize a project for Thanksgiving. She added the familiar tale of Stone Soup to the plan to make soup for our feast. The children delighted in bringing something to add to the pot to create a very magical soup. My son is now in college but I continue to think of making “Stone Soup” to launch the holiday season.        ~ ~ ~ Babette

Stone Soup

From Emma Lea’s Family Cookbook and Emma Lea’s TeaZine.

The story of Stone Soup is well known as a picture book. But you can create the same experience for young children with your own magic stone and interesting array of ingredients.


A magic stone
A large soup pot
Optional soup bone or other meat products
The Stone Soup story book or a willing storyteller


There are many versions of this classic story. And you can easily find a picture book version at your local library or bookstore. One of the most famous editions is by Marcia Brown, winner of the Caldecott Award. I’ve also composed a short version based on the original French fable, printed below.

Begin by reading the story together. Follow with the suggestion to make your own stone soup. Be sure to wash and pre-boil your magic stone. Sometimes I’ve even tied a string around the stone so that we could lift it out to see it while it’s cooking. That always produced lots of jokes and giggles. Then have your child help make the choices for what goes in next.

I encourage you to explain that the rock isn’t really magic. It just makes the story fun and teaches us lessons about generosity and teamwork.

And while the soup is cooking, you can also make some Homemade Crackers,  page 91 or Cheese Crusts,  page 90, to serve together.

Adding meat to the soup requires a longer cooking time. If you want to use meat, you might be able to have the stock and meat cooked in advance if time is critical.

The Story of Stone Soup

Once upon a time there was a land  which had suffered from many years of war and the destruction of their land. Money and food were scarce. The people were careful and forced to live on very little.  One day a wandering soldier came into the village looking for a place to stay.
“There’s nothing to eat in our town,” he was told. “Better find somewhere else to settle.”
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I can see how you are suffering and  thought of making some soup for all of you.” He pulled a kettle from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a silk bag and dropped it into the water.
News of the stranger traveled quickly through the village and many came to watch him prepare his mysterious soup. The soldier sniffed the broth and smacked his lips.
“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with a beef bone — well, that’s much better.”
The butcher was standing at the edge of the town square and all eyes turned to him. “Well, I suppose I have a bone I could add to the pot.”
The soldier added the meat bone with great ceremony and the townspeople cheered. Then he added, “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”
The farmer’s wife happened to have an extra cabbage in her cart on the way to the market. “Well, since you’re going to share with everyone, I can add this.”
The soldier cut the cabbage with his knife and soon the other neighbors brought out potatoes, onions and carrots to add to the kettle.
The soup was delicious and the mayor of the town tried to buy the magical stone from the soldier. He refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

  • The Emma Lea Books

Book Reviews

Both the watercolors and the well thought out story are beautifully done. I liked the fact that Emma Lea's best friend is a boy. I appreciated that logical explanations were given to the little girl for the wishes being "granted" and how she realizes the teapot not actually being "magic" didn't make it any less "special". ~ ~ ~ K. Lio
This is a wonderful story of a little girl's dream with the magic lamp. To my delight, it combines fantasy with family values and reality. My granddaughter loves it. ~ ~ ~ Marianne Kummell
I read Emma Lea's Tea Party and was immediately moved to send it to my niece Emma. She is 4 years old. She absolutely loves the book and thinks it is about her. Such a beautiful tale with illustrations to match. A little girl can weave fantasies about this book. I can hardly wait until the next Emma Lea book! ~ ~ ~ Penny Hastings
This story brings to life family traditions and the value of giving 'real' and meaningful gifts from the heart. It also shows the importance of family in creating great moments in a child's life. I read this to my 5 year old niece, and both she and her mother were captivated by the story. ~ ~ ~ Carol Scuderi
This is a very special book about family traditions, bonding and growing up. The story of Emma Lea is delightful. If you like Fancy Nancy, you will love Emma Lea. ~ ~ ~ Jill Vanderwood
This book takes a look at tranquility, purity, harmony, and respect taught through the experiences of the Chanoyu tea ceremony. I know that this book will be infused into the study my students do of the Japanese culture. Once again the author and illustrator together have created a beautiful keepsake book for children. ~ ~ ~ J. Gilmour
Babette Donaldson tells this story with a beauty and sparseness that mimics the rituals of the ceremony and Jerianne Van Dijk illustrates the scenes with an impressionistic style, drawing the reader into the folds of Emma Lea's kimono and into the tea house with purity, tranquility, and harmony. ~ ~ ~ Ginger Manley
Oh, I do love these books. They are perfect for an afternoon read with a cuddly grandchild. Lots of information and the art work is enchanting. ~ ~ ~ Judy Wright
I really enjoyed this book with my little girl because I felt it introduced children to "helping out" and lets them know just because we have to do chores and make preparations, even for tea parties, that it doesn't mean we can't have fun while doing so and the biggest lesson to be learned from Emma Lea's Tea With Daddy is that spending time together is the most important gift of all!

Author, Babette Donaldson

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