Soup is the ultimate winter meal. Soups can be made from just about any ingredients you have on hand. This is the message behind the centuries-old folktale Stone Soup.
Stone Soup has been told all around the world! Just recently, I found an adaptation by an English author (Alan Durant) called Quill Soup. The actual recipe in each version of Stone Soup varies slightly, but the theme remains the same: food is better when shared with others.
Soup is a very fun and simple way to get kids cooking! The basic process is simple: saute the aromatics, add spices or dried herbs, throw in protein or grain with broth or stock, load it up with vegetables, simmer, season to taste and serve. Kids can participate in all of these steps. Here are a few tips for using soup as a way to involve your children in the kitchen (or garden!).
Try different soups.
- Select a kind of soup your kids love.
- Prepare two different brands (e.g., a Cambell’s vs. Progressive, etc.) or versions, if available (e.g. homemade vs. canned).
- Serve and taste each soup. Talk about how each soup tastes without making it a contest.
Prepare a veggie taste test.
- Select a few vegetables you know your kids like (carrots work great for this).
- Prepare bite-sized pieces and blanch half of them (cook for about 2 minutes in boiling water and then immediately cool down in ice water).
- Compare how the veggie tastes raw and cooked.
- Try this with a different veggie each week. Keep a list of veggies your child likes cooked (and put those in your homemade soups).
Practice kitchen skills.
- Always introduce a tool and show how to use it before giving it to a child. Practice form with easy options first, such as cookie cutters or vegetable peelers.
- Use utensils made for children or use simple alternates. For example, have kids practice cutting banana slices into even pieces using a disposable plastic knife.
- If you have multiple children, assign a different job to each. One can peel garlic, while another tears herb leaves. Gradually increase the difficulty of the tasks.
- Place a wet towel underneath a cutting board (to prevent it from sliding) and let your littles work on their kitchen skills while you prepare dinner.
- Hang a copy of Kitchen Tasks for Any Age on the fridge as a reminder to practice different skills.
Plan(t) a Soup Garden.
- Read the ingredient label or recipe for your child’s favorite soup and ask them to draw a picture.
- Identify the veggies that can be grown in the backyard.
- Order seed catalogs or look online for information for how to grow them.
- Get some seeds or plant starts and plant them in the ground.
- Track the growth and predict when they’ll be ready to harvest.
Host a Virtual Soup Off!
- Read the rules for the Soup Off! Challenge
- Select a soup to cook as a family.
- Invite another family to make the same soup.
- Dine together virtually and tell stories about cooking.
Enter the Stone Soup Community Challenge!
- Select a recipe that someone outside of your family would like.
- Cook the soup together and store it in a jar or freeze it.
- Share the soup with someone you haven’t been able to see (remember to follow all COVID-19 safety precautions).
- Submit your recipe to The School Garden Doctor by January 31st for a chance to win an Instant Pot!
January is National Soup Month. Celebrate by gathering in the kitchen, cooking with your kids, and savoring or sharing your favorite soups.
Resources for Cooking Instruction
- Cooking the Common Core: Bringing Educational Standards to Life in the School Garden
- Cooking with Kids
- Cooking Magic with Kids: Kids Eat Plants
Carrie Strohl has been cooking up ways to engage children in the kitchen and garden for over a decade. She is the founder and leader of The School Garden Doctor, a nonprofit she established in 2018 to empower teachers, schools, and communities to enhance science, nurture wellness, and foster environmental literacy through garden-based education.