There are many variations of the story of the stone soup, but all of them involve a traveler visiting a town suffering from a famine. The town residents try to discourage the traveler from staying the night, fearing that he is looking for food. They tell him right away that they don’t haveany food at all, and that he should look elsewhere. The traveler explains with a smile that he doesn’t need any food, and that he was actually planning on making a soup large enough to feed the whole town. The townspeople watch suspiciously as he collects firewood from the nearby forest and lays it in a neat pile on the ground. They also watch carefully as he fills his cauldron with water from the stream by the towns entrance. The traveler builds a fire and places the cauldron of water over it, watching happily as it bubbles. With great confidence he reaches into his bag and pulls out a big stone, dropping it carelessly into the pot of water. He leans close to the pot and sniffs his brew, exclaiming how delicious stone soup is. The villagers are all very interested by now and one by one they check up on the bubbling cauldron.
A man walks by with hunger written on his face and stares down into the stone soup, the traveler says how delicious the soup will be if it had a little bit of cabbage; the man says he has some and runs home, returning moments later with a cabbage, which he drops into the cauldron. Later a woman walks over to the soup, she smells the cabbage and licks her lips hungrily. The traveler tells her how delicious the soup would be if it had just a little bit of carrot; the woman proudly replies that she has carrots growing in her garden and she rushes off to collect them, when she returns she drops the carrots into the soup. Throughout the day this episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, leek, celery, potatoes, and of course, the big stone. Eventually the traveler takes the stone out of the soup and proclaims that the stone soup is ready. Everybody helps themselves to a big serving and enjoys the soup together; they all talk about how delicious it is. Plenty of soup remained in the cauldron after the feast was over, and so the town was relieved of their famine.