Make your own free website on

Stone Soup--by Marcia Brown - 1947

Three soldiers trudged down a road in a strange country. they were on their way home from the wars. Besides being tired, they were hungry. In fact, they had eaten nothing for two days.

"How I would like a good dinner tonight," said the first. "And a bed to sleep in," added the second. "But that is impossible," said the third.

On they marched, until suddenly, ahead of them, they saw the lights of a village. "Maybe we'll find a bite to eat and a bed to sleep in," they thought.

Now the peasants of the place feared strangers. When they heard that three soldiers were coming down the road, they talked among themselves. "Here come three soldiers," they said. "Soldiers are always hungry. But we have so little for ourselves." And they hurried to hide their food. They hid the barley in haylofts, carrots under quilts, and buckets of milk down the wells. They hid all they had to eat. Then they waited.

The soldiers stopped at the first house. "Good evening to you," they said. "Could you spare a bit of food for three hungry soldiers?" "We have no food for ourselves," the residents lied. "It has been a poor harvest."

The soldiers went to the next house. "Could you spare a bit of food?" they asked. "And do you have a corner where we could sleep for the night?" "Oh, no," the man said. "We gave all we could spare to the soldiers who came before you." "And our beds are full," lied the woman.

At each house, the response was the same -- no one had food or a place for the soldiers to stay. The peasants had very good reasons, like feeding the sick and children. The villagers stood in the street and sighed. They looked as hungry as they could.

The soldiers talked together. The first soldier called out, "Good people! We are three hungry soldiers in a strange land. We have asked you for food and you have no food. Well, we will have to make stone soup." The peasants stared.

The soldiers asked for a big iron pot, water to fill it, and a fire to heat it. "And now, if you please, three round smooth stones." The soldiers dropped the stones into the pot.

"Any soup needs salt and pepper," the first soldier said, so children ran to fetch salt and pepper.

"Stones make good soup, but carrots would make it so much better," the second soldier added. One woman said, "Why, I think I have a carrot or two!" She ran to get the carrots.

"A good stone soup should have some cabbage, but no use asking for what we don't have!" said the third soldier. Another woman said, "I think I can probably find some cabbage," and off she scurried.

"If only we had a bit of beef and some potatoes, this soup would be fit for a rich man's table." The peasants thought it over, then ran to fetch what they had hidden in their cellars. A rich man's soup, and all from a few stones! It seemed like magic!

The soldiers said, "If only we had a bit of barley and some milk, this soup would be fit for a king!" And so the peasants managed to retrieve some barley and milk.

"The soup is ready," said the cooks, "and all will taste it, but first we need to set the tables." Tables and torches were set up in the square, and all sat down to eat. Some of the peasants said, "Such a great soup would be better with bread and cider," so they brought forth the last two items and the banquet was enjoyed by all. Never had there been such a feast. Never had the peasants tasted such delicious soup, and all made from stones! They ate and drank and danced well into the night.

The soldiers asked again if there was a loft where they might sleep for the night. "Oh, no!" said the townsfolk. "You wise men must have the best beds in the village!" So one soldier spent the night in the priest's house, one in the baker's house, and one in the mayor's house.

In the morning, the villagers gathered to say goodbye. "Many thanks to you," the people said, "for we shall never go hungry now that you have taught us how to make soup from stones!"


(German Version)

Vielleicht kennt ihr diese Geschichte schon. Das macht aber nichts, denn sie ist so schön, dass man sie des öfteren lesen kann.

Vor langer, langer Zeit waren die Leute in einem einsamen Dorf sehr unglücklich. Es war ein besonders kalter Winter und niemand hatte etwas zu essen. Es herrschte nämlich eine große Hungersnot im Lande. Die meisten hatten kaum noch etwas zu essen und versteckten, was sie hatten. Die Leute wurden langsam immer böser und sprachen nicht mehr miteinander. Und wenn sie sprachen, dann stritten sie sich meistens. Jeden Tag wurde der Hunger schlimmer und die Leute bösartiger.

Eines Tages kam ein weiser, alter Mann in das Dorf. Er schleppte einen riesengroßen Topf. Man konnte sehen, dass es ihm große Mühe machte. Die hungrigen Leute wunderten sich alle groß, warum der Mann diesen großen Kessel schleppte. Was wollte er damit? Kochen würde er wohl nichts, denn es gab nichts. Der Alte schleppte den Kessel in die Mitte des Dorfes. Dann sagte er zu den Leuten: "Liebe Leute, bitte helft mir. Ich will euch eine gute Suppe kochen, weil ihr hungrig seid. Holt doch bitte Wasser und Holz damit ihr ein Feuer machen könnt". Die Leute schüttelten den Kopf und lachten ihn aus. "Womit willst du denn eine Suppe kochen? Niemand hat was zu essen?" "Das ist kein Problem," sagte der Alte, "ich habe einen magischen Stein. Den legen wir ins Wasser und dann wird die Suppe lecker." Indem er das sagte, zeigte er den Leuten einen unscheinbaren Stein. Na, sehr groß war der Stein nicht, aber man konnte ja nie wissen . . .

Die Leute machten also ein Feuer und holten Wasser für den Topf. Der Alte legte den Stein hinein, und nun warteten sie. Da sehr viel Wasser in dem Topf war, dauerte es lange. Da sagte plötzlich einer zu dem Alten: "Du, ich habe ein paar Karotten. Könnte man die vielleicht zusammen mit dem Stein kochen?" "Tolle Idee," sagte der Alte, "da wird die Suppe dann noch besser". Da fingen auch die anderen an, Zutaten für die Suppe zu bringen. Erst brachte einer Kartoffeln. Dann brachte einer Erbsen. Einer hatte sogar ein Stück Fleisch gefunden. Jeder brachte etwas, um die Suppe noch besser zu machen. Bald war der Topf ganz voll.

Was kann ich euch noch erzählen? Das war die beste Suppe, die die Leute je gegessen hatten. Keiner blieb hungrig und alle waren freundlich und hatten sich lieb.

Als die Mahlzeit fertig war, wollte der Alte seinen Kessel und den Stein nehmen und seine Reise fortsetzen. Einer der Leute wollte wissen, ob man den Stein kaufen könnte. "Ja," riefen sie alle, was kostet dieser herrliche Stein? Wir legen alle unser Geld zusammen und kaufen ihn. Zusammen schaffen wir das leicht.". Da lächelte der Alte und sagte: "Liebe Leute, ihr braucht doch den Stein gar nicht mehr . . ."


Translated to English:

Stone Soup

Perhaps you already know this story. But that's all right. It is such a beautiful story that I could read it over and over again.

A long, long time ago, the people in a faraway village were very unhappy. They were having an especially cold winter and no one had anything to eat. There was a big famine in the country. Most people had hardly anything to eat and were hiding what little they had. Gradually the people got more and more angry and hardly spoke with each other. And when they did talk, the usually fought. Every day the hunger got worse and the people got meaner.

One day, a wise old man came to the village. He was lugging a giant pot. You could tell that he had a lot of trouble lugging it. The hungry people all wondered a lot why the man was lugging around a cauldron like that. What was he up to? Surely, he wasn't going to cook anything, since nothing was available. The old man lugged the cauldron to the middle of the village. Then he said to the people" "Dear people, give me a hand. I want to make you a good soup to still your hunger. Why don't you fetch some water and some wood so that you can make a fire." The people shook their heads and laughed at him. "With what do you want to cook a soup? No one has anything to eat. "No Problem," the old man said, " I have a magic stone. We will place it in the water and then the soup will become wonderful." In saying these words he showed the people an insignificant looking rock. Well, that rock sure wasn't very big, but then, you never knew . . ."

So, the people lit a fire and fetched water for the cauldron. The old man placed his stone in the water, and now they were waiting. Since there was a lot of water in the pot, it took a while. Suddenly one of the villagers said to the old man: "You know what, I have a few carrots. Would it be possible to cook these together with the stone?" "That's a great idea," said the old man, "that will make it even better." As soon as he had said that, the other people started bringing things as well. First one brought potatoes. Then another brought peas. One person had even found a piece of meat. Everybody brought something to make the soup even better. Soon the whole pot was full.

What else can I tell you? That was the best soup the people had ever eaten. No one stayed hungry and all where friendly and loved each other.

When the meal was finished, the old man wanted to take his cauldron and his stone and continue on his journey. One of the people wanted to know whether one could buy the stone. "Yes," they all shouted, what does this wonderful stone cost? We'll all put our money together and buy it. Together we can swing it." Then the old man smiled and said: "My dear people, you don't need this stone anymore . . ."