The Original Stone Soup Story

This is the original stone soup story published in English. It was first published in London in 1808. The author is Robert Moser. Stone Soup is classified by folklorists as a Stone Soup is an Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1548 folktale. That is a folktale in the “clever man” category. In Moser’s version of the story he emphasizes the traveler’s social skills. Tired, hours on the road and hungry he nonetheless starts out the conversation with the woman at the farmhouse with small talk. When he finally gets around to asking for the pot and explaining about how he will make stone soup he does so in the way of a performer — “If you will lend me a small pot,” said the Traveler, “I’ll show you.” And I think that is way the stone soup story always ends up on a happy note. The traveler, the tramp, the soldier, whoever it is who needs to eat but only has a stone knows how to entertain! And the soup is always so good! If you are interested in the full history of the stone soup story, and its first publication 1720 by he French journalist, Madame de Noyer, please look at our stone soup history here.

The Original Stone Soup Story from 1808, ” To Make Stone Soup”

A traveler, apparently wearied, arrived one morning at a small village that lies to the north of Schauffhausen, on the road toe Zurich, in Switzerland. A good woman sat spinning and singing at the door of her cottage; he came up to her; talked first about the roughness of the roads, and then of the prospect of a luxuriant vintage along the banks of the Rhine: at last he asked her if she had any fire?

“To be sure I have! How should I dress my dinner else?”

“Oh, then,” said the Traveler, “as your pot is on, you can give me a little warm water.”

“To be sure I can! But what do you want with warm-water?” “If you will lend me a small pot,” said the Traveler, “I’ll show you.”

“Well! you shall have a pot. There, now what do you want with it?”

“I want, said the Traveler, “to make a mess of stone soup!” “Stone soup!” cried the woman, “I never heard of that before. Of what will you make it?”

“I will show you in an instant,” said the man. So untying his wallet, he produced a large smooth pebble. “Here,” he cried “is the principal ingredient. Now toast me a large slice of bread, hard and brown. Well, now attend to me.”

The stone was infused in warm water; the bread was toasted, and and put into the pot with it. “Now,” said the Traveler, “let me have a bit of bacon, a small quantity of sour krout, pepper, and salt, onions, celery, thyme.” In short, he demanded all the necessary materials.

The good woman had a store cupboard and a well cropped garden; so that these were procured in an instant, and the cookery proceeded with great success. When it was finished, the kind hostess, who had watched the operation with some anxiety, and from time to time longed to taste the soup, was indulged. She found it excellent. She had never before tasted any that was so good. She produced all the edibles that her cottage afforded; and spreading her table, she, with the Traveler, made a hearty meal, of which the stone soup formed a principal part.

When he took his leave, he told the good woman, who had carefully washed the stone, that as she has been so benevolent to him, he would, in return, make her a present of it.

“Where did you get it?” said she.

“Oh,” he replied, “I have brought it a a considerable way; and it is a stone of that nature, that if be kept clean, its virtue will never be exhausted, but, with the same ingredients, it will always make as good a soup as that which we have this day eaten.”

The poor woman could hardly set any bounds on her gratitude; and she and the Traveler parted highly satisfied with each other. Proud of this discovery, she, in general terms, mentioned it to her neighbors. By this means the recipe was promulgated; and it was in the course of many experiments at length found, that other pebbles would make as good soup as that in her possession. The viand now became fashionable through the Canton, and was indeed so generally approved, as to find its way to most of the peasants’ tables, where stone stoup used frequently be served as the first dish.

Bibliography

Moser, Joseph. 1806. The Recipe for Stone Soup. The European Magazine, and London Review p. 221-222..

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