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.

You decide.

Once upon a time there was a young mother with two young daughters. The father in this family had just left them alone to go on a great quest to a faraway place called "college" and couldn't afford to send them any money. The mother worked very hard, but once the rent was paid there was very little money left over for food.

Since the family lived in a neighborhood where pretty much everyone else was in the same boat, the mother decided to have a party. She knocked on the doors of everyone she knew, and even some people she didn't know, and invited them all over to her house that very night. At each house she would say, "We're providing dinner, but do you happen to have a few onions I could borrow? Or some rice?"

By dinnertime there was a huge pot of tasty tasty soup on the stove (we even put a stone in it), a house full of happy well-fed people, and a neighborhood that knew they would do a lot better in the cruel world if they stuck together and helped each other out.

I always thought the moral of this story was that I have the best mom in the world. And that no matter how poor you are you can usually find something to make soup out of. And that pooled resources go a lot farther than hoarded ones. Geesh, all kinds of morals!

The title of a syndicated newspaper comic strip by Jan Eliot, started in November 1995. The name is derived from the aforementioned tale where a community has to create something from nothing, which is "what parents, especially single parents, often must do."

The cast of Stone Soup is sort of the opposite of "Fox Trot": two single moms, both sisters; Valerie is a widow with two daughters, pre-teenage and grade school-age, and Joan has a boy toddler and an ex-husband who still hasn't taken responsibility for anything. Their mom lives upstairs in Valerie's house. Val's dating a local motorcycle cop. Their middle-aged neighbor Wally just got married to Joan. He has custody of his teenage nephew, who's only now getting his act together. Oh, and Val has a dog named Biscuit, who's really more like a little lightning bolt with a tongue.

If there's any other possible non-traditional way for heterosexual human beings to form a family, it's probably showed up in this strip at one time or another. It's an uncommon dose of reality in the daily funny pages. Right down to the office jerks.

The band whose original members included Carrie Newcomer on guitar, dulcimer, and vocals, Dennis Leas on percussion, and Larry Smeyak on guitar and harmonica. The band later included Michael Lewis on guitar and vocals, taking Larry Smeyak's place. The band formed in the Lafayette, Indiana area in the early 1980s, playing popular clubs such as the Stabilizer and the Long Center. Their music was a bluesy blend of midwestern folk and pop with insightful and touching pieces such as "Waiting" and "Survivor."

On the heels of the dissolution of Leas and Newcomer's marriage came the end of the band. The two studio albums released by the band included "Long Fields" and "October Nights." Newcomer released a solo album shortly after the breakup of the band that featured former Stone Soup members entitled "Visions and Dreams," produced, like the previous two releases, by Richard K. Thomas. Newcomer then went on to sign with Rounder Records and has enjoyed a fair amount of popularity, releasing 5 more CDs and playing shows with Alison Krauss and having liner notes written by Barbara Kingsolver

Stone Soup

To make this recipe you will need the following: friends, a kitchen, and a large pot (or two if some people end up being vegetarian/vegan/gluten free and others are not) and time.

First ask all to arrive within a specified window of time on an agreeable day. Sundays are good but any day will work.

Next ask everyone to bring an ingredient they like in soup. Tell the ones who plan on showing up after the first two hours of the gathering to bring a beverage or dessert. Tell your friends to bring their friends along, if they like.

On the appointed day, get your kitchen and home ready by cleaning up. Or have one of the early arrivals do that for you.

Bring out your large pot and any ingredients you might have, like stock or grains. As people arrive, chop or dice their bringings and throw it in the pot. Season to taste.

The soup is ready once all of the contents are cooked thoroughly.

Let all take as much as they need but no more, no less.

The Stone Soup may end up looking ugly but it is magic because it can change you.

Keep it going by planning the next Stone Soup.

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