Dolly Parton's Famous Stone Soup Has A Whimsical Origin Story

Dolly Parton performing on stage
Dolly Parton performing on stage - Theo Wargo/Getty Images

There's something equally fun and fascinating about learning which meals celebrities grew up eating. Dolly Parton, for instance, has a pretty special story surrounding one of her favorite childhood dishes. On an episode of erstwhile food talk show "The Chew,"  the philanthropic multi-hyphenate mentioned a meal named stone soup, an unassuming vegetable soup that her mother, Avie Lee Parton, would prepare for the musician and her 11 siblings. The family had very humble beginnings and according to Parton, the soup was a fun activity her mother orchestrated for the family. She would ask her children to search for a stone to add to the soup, each of the kids would present their finds, and their mother would decide which stone ended up in the soup.

Parton said that her mother was very intuitive and usually knew which child needed a little more attention that day, so she would choose their stone to make them feel special. And it worked! According to The Takeout, in her 1994 memoir "Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business," Parton mentioned that whenever her stone was picked, she felt like she was "able to contribute to feeding her family for that day," and for having a hand in preparing a delicious soup, too.

Read more: 12 Discontinued Store-Bought Soups We Aren't Getting Back

Stone Soup's Origins Predate The Parton Family

Dollywood sign near the entrance of the theme park
Dollywood sign near the entrance of the theme park - Crobertson/Getty Images

Stone soup is available at Song & Hearth, the restaurant inside Dollywood, the amusement park owned by Dolly Parton and located in Tennessee, near the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains where her childhood home is located. The recipe is even available for download on the theme park's website and used to be printed for diners on stylized notecards.

While the recipe has been bringing joy to Parton's family (and now her fans) for a long time, the story of the soup has been known for a while and it has always been surrounded by joy. It started out as a tale first published in 1720 in France by Madame de Noyer. Titled "Soupe au Caillou," it's set in Normandy and follows two Jesuits who knock at a family's door and explain that they have a stone that can make a delicious soup. They're of course met with wariness but all involved end up having a good time, and the soup brings smiles to everyone around the table. Another version was published in France in 1771, by Phillipe Barbe, also titled "Soupe au Caillou." Barbe added the moral of the story: Having gumption is needed to get out of a bad situation. In the tale, the "magical stone" is a way for the Jesuits to find a host who would offer them a meal since they couldn't afford one. Similarly, Parton's mother also made the best out of a challenging situation.

What Does Stone Soup Taste Like?

Seasoning a pot of soup with herbs
Seasoning a pot of soup with herbs - Gmvozd/Getty Images

And what does stone soup taste like? If you're imagining the flavor of dirt and rocks mixed with a hint of nothing, don't worry -- it's not like that. It turns out that the stone is optional and doesn't affect the taste of the recipe. It's only included to make it as fun as it was for Dolly Parton and her family. In truth, it's a nuanced vegetable soup stocked with everything from potatoes and tomatoes to cabbage, garlic, and root veggies like turnips and carrots, all brought together by the inclusion of smoked ham hock; the stone is added along with the vegetables to simmer. Whether it makes the broth taste better or not depends on whether you believe in its magic — Parton certainly did.

If you're planning to attempt your own stone soup, don't forget to make sure that the stone is clean. Parton's family recipe is delicious but any soup, such as a mushroom cheddar soup or a potato soup, can become a stone soup. Fans have been trying their hand at Parton's family recipe for years, and some of them even upload videos to social media of their versions to keep Parton's tradition going. "I thought this was going to be super boring, but it's really good," said one YouTuber, who posted a video trying out the recipe.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.