The Original Stone Soup Story
The Stone Soup story is a very old one. We do not know when the story was first told, but versions of the Stone Soup story were long told throughout Europe. It came to North America with European settlers. There is a version from the American Civil War. The story has since moved around the world, even to Northern Kenya. Stone Soup is a story about making something from nothing. A good-tasting soup, beginning with a stone and boiling water, becomes a fabulous soup with the addition of a little bit of this and that. At heart, the traditional story is a trickster tale. Typically, the person starting the soup is a beggar who is denied the food he requests from someone living in a house, or even in a mansion. In many versions, including in the American Civil War version, the beggar is a soldier looking for food.
We chose Stone Soup as the name of our magazine because we liked the idea that a fabulous soup could be made up of many small contributions of good things. While we are not tricksters, we are like beggars. After each issue of Stone Soup is published, our cupboard is bare. Like beggars, we ask you, our child readers, to send us stories, poems, and art so we can create a little book — for that is what each issue really is — that is better and more interesting than any one story or poem or picture. If you would like to contribute to our Stone Soup, we encourage you to send us your work. Because we can’t use everything sent to us, we advise you to read stories and poems posted on this website. If you think your work has the same spirit, send it to us following our Contributors’ Guidelines.
Here is how the story of Stone Soup was explained in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, written by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer and published in England in 1905.
Stone Soup, or St. Bernard’s Soup. A beggar asked alms at a lordly mansion but was told by the servants they had nothing to give him. “Sorry for it,” said the man,” but will you let me boil a little water to make some soup of this stone?” This was so novel a proceeding, that the curiosity of the servants was aroused, and the man was readily furnished with saucepan, water, and a spoon. In he popped the stone, and he begged for a little salt and pepper for flavouring. Stirring the water and tasting it, he said it would be the better for any fragments of meat and vegetables they might happen to have. These were supplied, and ultimately he asked for a little catsup or other sauce. When fully boiled and fit, each of the servants tasted it, and declared that stone soup was excellent.