Soup


If your kids complain and pick at their chili because of the “yucky” vegetables, this chili is for you!  My sons used to love my chili.  They ate big chunks of red bell pepper and onion with smiles on their faces.  Then the picky “threes” started, and suddenly my good eaters wouldn’t eat anything.  My solution–puree, puree, puree!

Super Picky Eaters' Chili BEFORE . . .

This mild, yet satisfying, chili is very versatile.  It can be made low carbohydrate or Paleo-style without beans or corn.  You may also add other vegetables, such as pumpkin or butternut squash to sweeten the chili and give it more vegetable nutrition.  The key with my picky eaters right now is to puree the vegetables they don’t like (such as onions and red peppers) and to leave the vegetables they do like whole (such as corn and butternut squash), so they recognize the yummy chunks in their food and are more likely to eat it.

. . . and AFTER! (okay, I did help him get the last bite)

I made this chili last night and my boys chowed it down.  I used a can of corn and added the beans to the boys’ bowls right before serving, skipping my own bowl.  This way my boys got the kidney beans they love and I was able to eat a double portion without worrying about my various health concerns.

Yum!  Aren’t you glad it’s soup weather again?

Super Picky Eaters’ Chili

2 1/2 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey)
2 cups water
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, roughly chopped
6-8 cloves garlic
4 cups tomato juice
1  can kidney beans (about 1.5 cups) (optional)
1 can corn (or veggies of your choice – see variations)
1 tablespoon chili powder (add more if your kids like spicy foods)

Brown the beef in a dutch oven or stew pot over medium heat.  Pour off the grease and return the beef to the stove. Meanwhile, put the water, onion, red pepper and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil until the peppers and onions are soft.  Use a soup wand (stick blender) to puree the vegetables or put them into a blender or food processor and blend until the onions and red peppers are well pureed.  Add the pureed vegetables and tomato juice to the beef and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Add the beans, corn and spices (no need to drain the beans and corn unless you want to) and continue to simmer until the flavors have melded and the chili has cooked down to your desired thickness (drain the corn before adding for a thicker chili). Serve with shredded cheese or a dollop of yogurt if desired.

Makes about 12 cups of soup depending on how much you let it cook down

Variations: Add 1/2 – 1 cup pumpkin, butternut squash or carrots to the puree for a sweeter chili.

You may also add any other vegetable your kids like to eat, such as green beans or broccoli.  I once made a “chili vegetable soup,” using ground turkey, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans along with the onion, red pepper and tomato juice.  My kids ate it, so I consider it a success even though I thought it was only so-so tasting. Just remember, you want to puree anything they might “get picky” about and leave whole anything that will temp them to eat it.

Meal Planner:  I keep things simple by serving this chili with sliced apples and crackers or cornbread.

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.