Greener Way Associates

The Fable of Stone Soup

Once upon a time, there was a great famine and food became very scarce. Three soldiers, weary of battle and very hungry, walked into a small poor village. This village was very leery from a disappointing harvest and years of war, so seeing the three men approaching, they quickly hid from sight what little food they had.

A couple of brave villagers greeted the soldiers and said, “We see you are hungry but there is not enough food to even feed ourselves.” Then they suggested that it would be better if the soldiers just kept moving along. “No problem, we have brought food with us,” one soldier said. “In deed, we were about to make some stone soup which we will share with the entire village. “Stone soup! What a ridiculous thing!” one of the villagers exclaimed.” But the three soldiers began reaching into their pockets, and pulled out some smooth, round stones.

Upon inspecting these stones very carefully and nodded to each another one of them said, “We have brought with us some delicious stones that will make a big and filling soup with. Do any of you have a large cooking pot that we could borrow?” Overcome with his own hunger, a local innkeeper became intrigued with the idea of making soup from stones.

With some help from the three soldiers, they carried a large black pot from his kitchen to the very center of the village square. The soldiers filled it with water, and quickly built a fire under it. Then, with great care, they took the stones and placed them carefully into the pot.

While waiting for the water to boil and stirring it with a large wooden spoon, they commented to one another, “It would taste a lot better with a little salt and pepper!” Shortly, one of the villagers said, “I think I could find some salt and pepper, that is, if you are really going to share it with all of us!” The soldiers assured the villager that there would be plenty of stone soup to go around, with such a large pot of soup boiling.

Word of the soup spread quickly and by now most of the village folks had come to watch, licking their lips in anticipation. Their hunger now over coming their initial skepticism. “You know what?,” one of the soldiers said, “While this soup is quite good it would sure taste a lot better with a some cabbage.” “Oh, yes,” added another soldier, “Cabbage really adds flavor to stone soup.”

Soon, a man holding a cabbage he’d hidden earlier, added it to the pot. Another, inspecting the soup said, “You know, I have some carrots and they will really add a lot of flavor and color to this soup, as well!” He then ran off to get the colorful vegetable. “Yes, yes, this will be a fine soup,” said the third soldier; “but a little parsley would make it fit for a king!”

Up jumped a woman, crying, “What luck! I have some, but no food to use it on. I will get it right away!” And off she ran, returning with her apron full of parsley. As the large pot continued to boil, the memories of the villagers started to improve. In a short time, barley, salted beef and rich cream found their way into the pot of what was now the villagers rock soup. Wine and beer appeared as the entire village began to eat a great feast. They ate, danced and sang well into the evening, delighting in their newfound friends.

The next morning, the three soldiers found the entire village had come out to thank them for teaching their village a great lesson. Bags filled with bread and cheese were offered as the leader of the village said to them. “You have given us the greatest of gifts: The secret of how to make soup from rocks. We shall never forget it, and for that we shall forever be grateful to you.” The soldiers turned to the crowd, and one said: “It takes many and all to make a great feast.”

And with that, the soldiers accepted the bread and cheese and went on their way. It is said that soon after the village returned to prosperity, and has thrived ever since. The soldiers are said to still walk from town to town collecting stones as they travel.

This fable was rewritten by members of and may be freely copied or distributed.

PS. Every citizen of planet earth has a born right to equal opportunity and happiness. Any human whom believes they are superior or have privileges that others do not share, demonstrate their personal fear of inferiority and weakness. They are in fact equal except in their own eyes. We may educate and nurture them but not scorn nor judge lest we fall prey to a basic misunderstanding of the gift of life. Warren Montague