In the story of the stone soup, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village.
He was told to move on, that there was no food to be found in the village. Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.”
He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water. “Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot.
“You know,” the soldier remarked, “I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well …”
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef. In time, other villagers brought potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day.