The Peoples' Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development

Stone Soup Gift Culture Story

Once upon a time, there was a small village which was inhabited by poor people. They didn’t like sharing their things with others as they had very little. They would lock their doors and windows tight and keep the little provisions they had for themselves.
One day, a visitor passed through the village. He was very hungry and exhausted from his long journey. He stopped at the first house he could see and knocked on the door, hoping to get some food.
The woman inside cracked open the door a little and asked, “Who are you?”
“I am a traveller, and I was passing through your village. I am tired and hungry. Can I please have something to eat?” “Go away; we hardly have any food here,” replied the woman. “I doubt you’ll find anyone here who has food to spare. We are all poor,” said the woman. After she said this, the woman closed the door in the traveller’s face.
The traveller was not ready to give up and picked up a large stone from the ground and knocked again on the woman’s door. The lady came to the door again and opened it only halfway. “What do you want now?” asked the woman. “Since you are poor like me, maybe you’d like to have some of my stone soup. It is delicious and fulfilling!” “Stone soup, you say?” laughed the woman as she saw the stone in the traveller’s hand. “You can’t make soup from a stone” To that, the traveller replied, “Yes, you can! I’ve done it before.”
The woman didn’t believe him as she had never seen someone make soup from stones before. However, she was hungry too, so she invited him in. She lit the fire and placed a kettle of water on top, and opened the windows to let the heat out. The traveller placed the stones in the water until the water started boiling. He took a sip of the hot liquid and said, “It’s almost done! But, if you had just a little salt and butter, it would taste much better!”
The woman went to her cupboard and returned with salt and butter. As the traveller was adding them to the stone soup, the woman’s husband returned home with carrots and potatoes in his hand. “What are you cooking?” asked the woman’s husband. “Stone soup!” replied the traveller and the woman. The man could not believe this and thought that it was impossible to make soup out of a stone.
“It’s almost finished!” said the traveller as he tasted another spoonful of the soup. “However, it would taste much better if we added carrots and potatoes to it,” said the traveller. The husband was also hungry, so he agreed to add some carrots and potatoes to the stone soup.
Soon, the smell of the soup drifted out of the open window and down the lane. A neighbour who usually stayed inside wandered out and followed the smell all the way to the first house. There, he heard the woman, her husband and the traveller talking about the stone soup. “Is the stone soup ready now?” the woman and her husband asked the traveller. “Yes, but it could be even better if we had some turnips and beans!” “I have some!” yelled the neighbour who was watching them from the window.
The neighbour was curious to taste the soup made of stones, so he returned with turnips and beans. He poured it into the pot, and the smell of the soup drifted further into the village.
Word of a traveller making soup out of a stone drew the villagers out of their houses and towards the woman’s house. They all followed the smell. “Is the stone soup ready yet?” asked the villagers when they came to the window. “Yes, but I remember having stone soup with fresh chicken and broth in the stew once,” replied the traveller.
“I have chicken!” said a farmer and then ran home to get some. “I have broth!” exclaimed another villager who ran to fetch it. They both came and placed the items into the pot. By this moment, the pot was full to the brim with goodness. The traveller tried another sip of the soup, “Perfect!” he exclaimed. He then proceeded to serve a bowl of stone soup to every villager.
“It’s delicious!” said the villagers. “Where can we get this magic stone?” asked some. The traveller shook his head and pulled out the stone from the soup. The villagers realised that it was a normal stone, and the flavour of the soup came from the ingredients and not the stone.
The traveller drank what was left of the soup and continued with his journey. The villagers realised the importance of sharing, and from that day on, they shared their things with each other and lived happily together.