This is good, Mommy.

What could be more comforting on a cold, spring day than a warm bowl of cauliflower soup?  It’s sweet, mild and nourishing, and it gives the kids something fun to do as the rain pours down.  Many child nutrition experts claim that kids who help pick out, prepare or cook a food are much more likely to eat it.  I agree.  My sons and I started making soup together this winter, shortly after their second birthday, and they’re hooked.  They love pouring in the ingredients, stirring the pot and pureeing the vegetables with the “magic soup wand.”  Best of all, their faces glow with pride when we invite Grammy and Grandpa over to eat the dinner they’ve cooked.

The Proud and Happy Cooks.

My boys aren’t mature enough to add ingredients to a hot pot on the stove, so I invented the following recipe with fun and safety in mind.  It can be cooked all at once using a food processor or blender to purée the soup, or it may be cooled down and puréed using a soup wand.  We usually do the latter because it’s easier for me and because soup wands are A LOT of fun.  Just don’t pull it out of the pot while it’s twirling!

Cauliflower Soup

1 pound cauliflower, chopped (about one medium head or you can use frozen)
1 onion, chopped
2 ½ cups skim or low-fat milk
¼ – ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 – 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

Step 1: Let the kids put the cauliflower and the onion in a medium soup pot or a large sauce pan.  Add about 1 – 1 ½ cups of water (should be about an inch deep), then let the kids stir a little (although it’s not really necessary.)  Cover the pot and cook over medium heat about 25-30 minutes until the cauliflower is tender, checking occasionally to make sure there’s enough water in the bottom so the vegetables don’t burn.

Soup wands are fun!

Step 2: If you choose to purée hot soup, transfer the cauliflower mixture into a food processor or blender (you may have to do this in batches).  If more than ½ cup of the water remains, pour some out; otherwise keep the remaining water.  Let the kids add the milk and seasonings to the soup while it’s in the food processor.  They can also turn the processor on and stop it to stir occasionally if some of the cauliflower is sticking. Transfer the puree back to the soup pot.

If you use a soup wand with young children, you must either transfer the soup to a cold soup pot or you must set the pot on a cool burner and let it cool for 1 – 2 hours (we usually do Step 1 after nap, then go outside and play for an hour).  After checking the pots’ temperature, let your kids add the milk and the seasonings.  Purée the soup directly in the pot using the soup wand on a low setting.

Step 3: Simmer the soup until it is warm (10-15 minutes).  Do not let it boil or it will curdle.  Let the kids garnish their own soup at the table with shredded cheese if desired.

Makes:  5-6 cups of soup.

Variations:  Substitute broccoli or asparagus for the cauliflower.  If using broccoli, add 1 cup of cheese (8 ounces) directly to the soup, then let family members add cheese as wanted at the table for broccoli cheese soup.

Time-Saver: In Step 1 you may microwave the vegetables in a glass dish with about ½ cup water on high for 5-6 minutes instead of boiling on the stove.

Aidan loves to eat the soup he made.

Picky Eater Pleaser: Let family members pepper their own bowls of soup at the table instead of adding it to the pot.  You may also add a larger portion of cheese to a smaller amount of soup to introduce the soup to a cheese lover.

Menu Planner:  I keep this one simple with whole wheat bread or crackers and sliced fruit on the side.