Including kids in the food process really increases their chances of not only trying new things, but it predisposes them to like it as well. Little Z has been telling me for over a year now that she hates soup. And not just my soups, but canned ones as well.
But when Little Z came to the farm with us to pick up our weekly CSA farm share, she was excited to help select and measure the veggies for our share. And she'd exclaim "Oh, this will be perfect for my soup!" Wait, what? So that night, we made soup!
Random Veggie Soup1 leek (green part at top and root bottom trimmed off)
1 head broccoli, florets only (you can peel and chop up the stalk if you like, but the stalk causes extra gas, Have fun with that.)
1 lb carrots (4-5)
1 lb potatoes
1 lb random root veggies (rutabaga, sunchoke, parsnip, turnip, radish, kohlrabi, etc.)
1/2 bunch greens, stems removed and leaves torn into pieces (kale, collard greens, radish/beet/turnip greens, dandelion leaves, chard, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp minced)
3 c vegetable (or chicken) stock (or enough to almost reach the top of the veggies in the soup pot)
1 tsp salt, plus more, to taste
pepper, to taste
any other seasoning you like, to taste (several Tbsp Italian seasoning or fresh herbs usually works well)
Optional: 1-2 cups whole grains, such as brown rice, rinsed quinoa, wheat berries (if you aren't gluten-free!) millet, etc. (Make sure you add more liquid than required for the grains!)
[Really, several pounds of any savory veggies will do. Squash, leeks, cauliflower, peas, corn, celery, etc. Whatever you've got on hand. You can also add meat, if you like, but I would either cut it really small, or pre-cook it, just to be safe. Or hack up a brick of extra firm tofu.]
Trim and toss carrot and root veggie tops (if applicable) or save in a freezer bag with the peels to make veggie stock later!
Chop all veggies. You might want to chop the onion smaller, if you're like me and hate getting a mouthful of onion. More kid-friendly that way too. Hint hint.
*I let her cut the softer potato for a bit, highly supervised, until I couldn't handle the stress anymore
Toss all veggies (and grains, if using) into a large pot. Add salt and desired seasonings, then pour veggie stock evenly over the top. Bring to a boil, then turn to low (2,) cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
*Note: If you have a super picky kid, you may want to cook 35-40 minutes to make everything all mushy. Harder to pick stuff out, or you can blend it all into a soupy mash to disguise what's in it!
Show off your war-wounds from all that peeling.
How Kids Can Help
Choosing ingredients at the store/farm
Planting, watering and harvesting veggies and herbs from your home garden
Selecting which veggies will go into the soup
Peeling (if they're old and strong enough. You can let them try their best, then finish when they're satisfied.)
Cutting softer larger veggies like carrots, potatoes, and celery (cut them first into long pieces with a flat side to make it easier.)
Adding cut veggies to pot (this one's fun for them to do as you're chopping. Just be sure they can wait until you tell them it's okay, so you don't chop any little fingers!)
Measuring and pouring the veggie stock and seasonings.
Stirring (at the beginning, for younger kids, before you turn on the heat, and supervised during cooking, for the older ones.)
Selecting bowls and spoons for each family member and bringing them to the table.
She didn't love it, and she'd refused to let me season it with anything other than salt, so it was fairly bland (and I forgot to use veggie stock and just used water. Doh!) But she ate her whole bowl without complaint! Win!