A woman in a village was surprised to find a fairly well-dressed stranger at her door asking for something to eat. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I have nothing in the house right now.” “Not to worry,” said the amiable stranger. “I have a soup stone in this satchel of mine; if you will let me put it in a pot of boiling water, I’ll make the most delicious soup in the world. A very large pot, please.”

The woman was curious. She put the pot on the fire and whispered the secret of the soup stone to a neighbor. By the time the water began to boil, all the neighbors had gathered to see the stranger and his soup stone. The stranger dropped the stone into the water then tasted a teaspoonful with relish and exclaimed, “Ah, delicious! All it needs is some potatoes.”

“I have potatoes in my kitchen,” shouted one woman. In a few minutes she was back with a large quantity of sliced potatoes, which were thrown into the pot. Then the stranger tasted the brew again.

“Excellent!” he said. But added wistfully, “If we only had some meat, this would become a tasty stew.” Another housewife rushed home to bring some meat, which the stranger accepted graciously and flung into the pot. When he tasted the broth again, he rolled his eyes heavenward and said, “Ah, tasty! If we had some vegetables, it would be perfect, absolutely perfect.”

One of the neighbors rushed off home and returned with a basketful of carrots and onions. After these had been thrown in too and the stranger tasted the mixture, he said in a voice of command, “Salt and sauce.” “Right here,” said the housewife.

Then came another command: “Bowls for everyone.” People rushed to their homes in search of bowls. Some even brought back bread and fruit. Then they all sat down to a delicious meal while the stranger handed out large helpings of his incredible soup.

Everyone felt strangely happy as they laughed and talked and shared their very first common meal. In the middle of the merriment the stranger quietly slipped away, leaving behind the miraculous soup stone, which they could use anytime they wanted to make the loveliest soup in the world.