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
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.