Talk:Stone Soup

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Who are the characters

Isn't "Stone Soup" also possibly a tale of hoodwinking people by making them believe something exists when nothing does, and then "selling" them the result of their own contributions?

No, because in the most popular version of the story, the travelers share the soup with the villagers and the value of the labor (cooking) itself should not be discounted.

Does this article violate the policy against self references in articles? Ellsworth 23:58, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I don't think so. Edward 18:47, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I think it's fine. The article also mentions the GNU project. Many mouths make soup-pots shallow.
Wellspring (talk) 16:29, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

But the only versions I ever heard were about a single traveller hoodwinking a well-off household (or cook at a castle or similar) with a 'magic soup stone'. And then his cunning is rewarded by a benevolent King (or similar) being impressed with his skill (or he is punished, depending on the version). I'd never heard the cooperative version before, but had heard several of this. The traveller [i]did[/i] share the soup, but received food for free, having only contributed the stone. I heard several versions of this, and suspect it needs a mention somewhere, but won't take this step as an individual...

I think someone should write something about the origins of the story. Is it a portuguese fairy tale, Aesop's fable or something else? --U.U. 17:22, 19 September 2005 (UTC)

In Russia, this story is normally told of a honorably discharged soldier (back in XIX century, where a footsoldier's term of service would last many years) on his long way home to a far-off village. On the way he encounters a lone old man (or woman) too squeamish to part with his food reserves and pretending that there's no food at all in the house. The crafty soldier offers to help with food preparation, finds a wood-chopping axe lying around and uses it to make a kasha in the same manner as described here, by progressively soliciting his host for further ingredients to improve the flavor and eventually sharing the result. I have no idea nor source to cite on whether this story is derived from it's foreign structural equivalents or from a more ancient common ancestor, but I remember at least two film versions - one children's cartoon and at least one fairytale live action movie made use of the concept verbatim. Mihara 13:26, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

In the canadian scouting movement, we're taught this story as being of a bunch of soldierrs returning from a war in the 1800's, where a group of soldiers are refused food by the villagers, and using the stone trick, they get a large pot of soup going for the whole town. It is taught as a lesson on cooperation and how people should take care of one another. Plus its damned good soup when we make it ourselves! --Papa Jones


I concur with the others, I always remember it having the sort of "twist" at the end where the traveler robs everyone while they enjoy the soup. If I remember correctly, the idea is that the people were all angry at one another and refused to cooperate. Then the con man comes and tells them he has a magical stone to make soup for all of them despite their difficulties. He tastes the soup over and over again saying it would be improved by some carrots, salt, some potatoes, etc. Then as they all try it and hail him and his rock he takes not ony the money they give him but their personal belongings from the houses they have left with open doors to see what all this about stone soup is about.

Of course, this being a folk tale makes it so there isn't really one "right" version, and there are probably many. But if anyone can actually find these different versions it would be useful to add that bit. Russia Moore 21:05, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Nutrition/Diversity interpretation[edit]

I figured the lesson was about trading and exchanging, rather than hoarding what you have, in times of scarcity... the lesson being that having the-same-amount-but-more-diversified was better overall. Each villager had only one thing; potatoes, salt, meat, etc.. but none of what the other villagers had, and they were all hoarding.. This could be applied literally to nutrition, or figuratively to ethnicity or the economy (better to trade the little you have than to keep it to yourself where it's only going to stagnate).

What Kingsolver?[edit]

Hey... Why do we care 'bout Kingsolver's essay? That's totally out of place in here!!!

I agree... The essay is not even about stone soup; it uses the concept as a (stretched) metaphor. It should definitely be deleted or moved elsewhere. I put in the appropriate merge template, for now. Freederick 16:38, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
The Kingsolver section is essentially an unsourced review of a work largely irrelevant to the article. I flagged it as such. If nobody steps forward to clean it up, I will delete this section soon. Freederick 11:03, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Deleted. Freederick 10:51, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Emperor's New Clothes[edit]

Another interpretation again of this story was used in a 1977 electronics magazine. First was a straightforward telling of the story, but in a way more akin to The Emperor's New Clothes, where the travellers were demonstrating the power of their magic stone. But of course they used a pot that still had food from a previous meal, used vegetables and seasoning to enhance the result, used a meaty bone to stir the soup etc. Following this, the story was retold with the magic stone replaced with a microprocessor, which could do all sorts of wonderful things, but of course you also need a UART, a DMA controller, an interrupt controller, bus interface, bus driver, etc.

Reference: Stone Soup - A Modern Parable, Electronics Australia, Vol. 38, No. 11, February, 1977, pp. 80-81.

I think there are enough alternate variations on the main story, as mentioned in previous entries and here, that reference to them is worthwhile in the article. Stephen.frede 07:59, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Modern Meanings[edit]

There are two modern meanings to Stone Soup:

1. Soup made from leftovers.

2. Leftovers.


I think a section should be added for these. Shawncorey (talk) 23:56, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I say go for it. Just remember to cite your sources. :-) -FrankTobia (talk) 04:07, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


There are almost no references at all. --Shruti14 talksign 01:12, 7 August 2008 (UTC) has a few versions, the oldest from the early 19th Century: Project Gutenberg has a version of "Der schlaue Pilgrim" in German:


While I assume the photo is supposed to be a harmless joke, I wonder if it's actually appropriate here. --gilgongo (talk) 13:13, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

External links[edit]

What does Chapter II of Tom Sawyer have to do with this page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Is There An Historical Basis for Stone Soup Tales?[edit]

I am intrigued by the chemical and nutritional aspects of the soup stone. In the 1950’s my grandmother was making stone soup on her farm in southern Ontario, Canada. One weekend while we were visiting, she asked my father to go out and find her a new soup stone because her old one was worn out. My father brought back a gray stone, about the size of two coffee mugs, for her and one for us as well. I have often wondered how this stone made the soup taste better. I have found recipes online that require a “gray stone” as well but no explanation of why the stone was needed. A gray stone in this part of Ontario would be limestone. My family had a hard time during the depression but I suspect that the stone did more than just hold the flavour for the next pot of soup. First, the limestone would react with any acidity in the soup, such as from tomatoes, and this might be considered an improvement in the flavour. Secondly, an improvement in the flavour might also result from any minerals that leached out of the stone while it was boiled. The leaching out of minerals has me concerned because some might be toxic. I am thinking back to the recipes that I have seen online that do not tell you what kind of stone to use. I suspect that limestone would be relatively safe but other rocks or minerals may not. Can anyone confirm my suspicions? If I am right, then there is an historical basis for the stone soup stories. Fred Blair, Oct. 19, 2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:15, 19 October 2009 (UTC)


WHat Irony!! On Wikipedia, one of the most vivd examples of cooperation making the whole greater than the sum of the parts, a fine cheerful story of success and abundance portrayed under the heading FRAUD !?!? What mean-spirited misers wrote this gem of a commentary? and btw - let's change the "trick" word in the article.. this is wholly misrepresenting the story as far as I can see... signed- the random observer —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree- this parable is much more on the order of a tale of leadership, at least for the versions where the soup is shared out among the contributors.DocKrin (talk) 13:46, 26 December 2015 (UTC)

Para Handy Tales - chuckie-stane soup[edit]

There's a parallel in Scots fiction:
Title: In Highland Harbours with Para Handy
Author: Neil Munro (1864-1930) (Pen Name of Hugh Foulis)
Project Gutenberg Australia


"I kent a vegetarian yince," said Sunny Jim, "and he lived maist o' the time on chuckie soup."
"Chucken soup?" repeated Dougie interrogatively.
"No; chuckie soup. There was nae meat o' ony kind in't. A' ye needed was some vegetables, a pot o' hot water, and a parteecular kind o' chuckie-stane. It was fine and strengthenin'."
"You would need good teeth for't, I'm thinkin'," remarked the Captain dubiously.

-- (talk) 10:04, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

The Third Ingredient[edit]

There's an obvious Stone Soup variant in O. Henry's "The Third Ingredient." Added the following text, which has been removed twice without explanation:

A variation on Stone Soup is presented in O. Henry's ironic 1909 short story "The Third Ingredient," which follows a lower-class woman who has lost her job. Bargaining with a rib of beef, she makes friends with a neighbor and a love interest who donate ingredients for a stew: "You can make oyster-soup without oysters ... but you can't make beef-stew without potatoes and onions."

Gundleus (talk) 17:45, 11 February 2012 (UTC) That's a different story and it doesn't belong in this article.Psam pspade (talk) 17:49, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

It is not a straight rendition of the folk tale, but by all appearances it is a direct spin. Typically trickery, anticipation, and cooperation "magically" convert a stone (nail, etc) into delicious soup. Here, you'd think that beef would make beef soup, but the narrator declares, in irony, that this is actually impossible. Anticipation, cooperation, and chance convert the beef into beef soup... voila! The lesson is still very much one about cooperation, but there is an added element to replace the trickery: it is not even the soup that is most important, really, but the people. The story is a significant variation not identical to others. Gundleus (talk) 00:17, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

My edit and External link[edit]

I was reverted for copyrighted material, (I don't think the story is copyrighted). Anyways I put the external link (I had also added) back in as I THINK that is okay. --Mark v1.0 (talk) 10:33, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

A reminiscence[edit]

Stone Soup was one of my first child hood memories and from my memories it most likely was the 1947 book by Marcia Brown. definitely three french coming back from war (i have vivid recollection of their red uniforms with a wide black "V" as accent and/or definition of the cut.) Read by Captain Kangaroo it definitely was not a story of greed at least not on the part of the soldiers.

  • As the trio approached the town the alarm went out. "Soldiers approaching" because the whole town thought that the soldiers wanted to take the best the town had. (a concept that Soldiers could pretty much do as they pleased was why we have one of our constitutional amendments). thus the whole town hurried to hide everything they had of value. If i remember correctly even the large soup pot was hidden to beg poverty of the visitors.

(I believe the interviews were done in the town square so one by one the villagers joined at the square but that may have been later and just a coincidence that last to interview had hidden a pot)

  • as the soldiers talked to each villager their stories of poverty became bigger and bigger so after first talking to each... one soldier spied a large smooth stone and "remembered" how delicious the stone soup was that was served them in a foreign land (i don't believe that the exact war was mentioned) oh the soup was so delicious that the soldier even asked for the recipe, but alas, we don't even have a pot big enough to cook this huge stone....

thus began the talking out of the required ingredients a pot filled with water, spices, carrots and cabbages, even meat from the butcher. so all the soldiers new friends would not starve.

so if anything it was a lesson in sharing. with a "soldiers are kind" thrown in while the only greed shown was on the part of the villages who lied. --Qazwiz (talk) 20:27, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

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