Adapted by Kirby Sanders – 28 Feb. 2013
Once there was a village. Hard times and drought had hit. The people were starving and everyone was hoarding what food they had. They were becoming distrustful and envious of one another for who had what and who had too little.
One day, a stranger came to town and the village elders met him — as they did with every stranger who came to town.
“Y’all look hungry,” he said. “Do you know how to make stone soup?”
“?Stone soup?” the elders asked, “what the hell is stone soup?”
“Well,” the stranger said, you make a big fire in the village square. Get a big pot of water to boiling. Wash off three large rocks and cook them up in the pot. Then everybody in the village comes out and shares the soup when it is cooked.”
“That doesn’t sound very tasty or nutritional,” the elders concurred.
“It is better,” said the stranger, “if somebody throws some potatoes into the pot and somebody else throws in some meat and somebody else throws in some carrots and other folks throw in some shallots and onions and turnips.”
“I don’t like turnips,” one of the elders said.
“So,” said the stranger, “when the soup is cooked and served, pick out the turnips from your bowl and give them to someone who likes turnips.”
The elders, being wise and judicious, were skeptical of the stranger’s fancy new idea but decided to try it. They built up a fire and put on a big pot of water with three clean large stones at the bottom. Soon enough a passer-by inquired about the big pot of boiling water and offered some extra potatoes that he had. Another added a big ham bone. Another put in some spare onions. Others added stray carrots and tomatoes and a couple of apples – and, yes, some turnips. The stranger just stood at the pot and stirred it all day long.
Come evening, the entire village turned out with plates and bowls in hand to taste what they had all created. The stranger stood at the pot and dipped out ladles of soup onto every plate and bowl. By late of the night, the envious and the greedy alike were all full and happy — dancing with one another and singing silly songs.
The stranger dipped the very last ladle of soup into his own bowl.
The elder who did not like turnips asked the stranger “who is going to clean up the pot?”
“Everyone who ate – if you resolve to make another pot of stone soup next week. I leave that to you. Thanks for dinner.”
The stranger finished his bowl, washed it, gathered up his own few possessions and left the village.
On the last day of every week thereafter, the village created and shared a big pot of stone soup and celebrated what they came to call “Stranger Day.”