{Stone} soup. I mean chili.

There’s always a lot of nostalgia when we get together with Kris and Dave. She was my best friend in high school, and while we were in college, she nudged Eric in my direction and we all know how that turned out.

I remember the day she walked into our dorm room after class and told me about this blond, barefooted fellow in her sociology class. That turned out to be David and they are a perfect match. Blessed, we are.

Go Hilltoppers.

This past weekend we met in the middle to spend the weekend camping and this is our new tradition. We already have our trips for next year planned.

Eric and I cooked the first night and Kris and Dave cooked the second. And I’m not talking about hotdogs on a stick. We do it right. There’s table settings and candles, and a delicious meal to savor because everything tastes better out of doors. Yum.

Last night we made stone chili.

Well. Sort of.

While thinking about what to cook on our third night, we decided to make a game of it and prepare something with only ingredients we had in our campers. With the weather turning cooler this fine September weekend, our thoughts immediately focused on chili and how good that would be bubbling over an open fire all afternoon. A quick inventory of our cabinets yielded tomato juice, ground beef, black beans, habenero seasoning, and a few other secret ingredients. Perfect.

As we pondered our meal, I was reminded of a wonderful story that I hadn’t thought of for years. I asked my companions if they remembered Stone Soup. Surely, they did.

If you’re around my age you’ll remember spending many a morning perched in front of the television watching Captain Kangaroo. That’s where I first heard the story of stone soup, read by one of the regulars, either the Captain himself or maybe Mr. Greenjeans. I don’t remember for sure. But it was always one of my favorites.

I don’t know if it’s still in print, or if moms, dads, or teachers even read it anymore, but it’s a sweet tale. A quick search of the web found this condensed version, which to my recollection is as close to the story I heard as a child as I could find.

Enjoy.

Stone Soup
Once upon a time, 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 and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”

“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.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

“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. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king!”  The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through 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. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

How was our chili, you ask?

Capital!

{filled to overflowing with good friends and lovely memories}

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