There are many variants of the Story of Stone Soup, and its origins are unknown. Here, I present the tale as I originally heard it years and years ago. (I didn't write the original story. This particular interpretation, however, was written by me. Yes, I wrote it just now.)
One thing about this story - It has always given me a craving for my mother's homemade chicken soup, since the first time I heard it. Shit, I might just defrost some tonight.
The Story of Stone Soup
Once upon a time, there was a lone traveller making his way across a long journey. He had come from far away, and had recently braved the hills. Tired and weary from his trek, he searched for a place to rest and maybe get a bite to eat.
The traveller came across a village, and began visiting each house to maybe find a kind soul who would be willing to share some food, as he had done previously on his journey. He was astonished to find that not one house was willing, or able to provide him with any food.
"There's very little food left in the entire village." said one villager. "I'm sorry, but I can't help you."
Quickly seeing that the entire village had very little food, the traveller had an idea. At the center of the village was a large pot. Underneath the pot, the traveller started a fire. He filled the pot with water, and let it warm up.
By now, curiosity had reached the villagers, and they began to crowd around the cauldron.
"What are you doing, good sir?" asked one of the townspeople.
"I've decided I'm going to make some soup. Stone soup. There shall be enough for everyone," replied the traveller.
"Stone Soup? Why, I've never heard of that!"
The traveller reached into his pocket, and pulled out a large, ordinary looking stone. He held it over the steaming pot of water, and dropped it in. The villagers watched with curiosity while the traveller stirred the large pot.
"Mmmmm. This stone soup smells delightful! Except, there was one time, I had Stone Soup with carrots. It was superb."
One of the villagers hurried off to his house, and returned to the crowd with a bushel of carrots. He asked the traveller if they were good enough to use with the soup.
"Absolutely! Drop them in, my good friend."
The traveller tasted the soup while the village watched.
"Ahhh, yes. Yes, it's coming along quite nicely. Except..."
"Yes? Yes?" said someone from the crowd.
"I once had Stone Soup, with carrots as well as cabbage. It was fit for a king!"
And at once, two heads of cabbage were donated to the soup. Eventually, so it went with potatoes, mushrooms, celery, corn, and various types of herbs and spices.
By the time the water was close to boiling, the soup had turned into quite a feast. Everyone was excited, as was the traveller.
"This Stone Soup may be the best I've had yet. Except..."
"Yes? Yes?" was asked again.
"It would not be a complete Stone Soup without a bit of salt beef."
Without hesitation, the village butcher provided a large quantity of salt beef, and dumped it into the soup. It was finally ready, and the entire village was able to eat their fill.
By the time the pot was drained, all that remained was the traveller's stone. He pulled it out, and put it back into his pocket. The villagers, so impressed with the soup, offered to buy the stone from the traveller. He refused to sell it, however, but did ask to stay in the village for a night. They were happy to comply, and the next day, he continued his journey.
The moral of this story? I have no idea, but it makes for a tasty meal.
Seriously, it's supposed to symbolize the idea that when a group of people pull together toward a common goal and contribute what they can, the end result is usually far greater than expected.
Or, it says that an entire village can be duped into believing that soup can be made with a rock.