Child Friendly Vegetable Soup

“You can make a meal out of nothing, if you’ve got the stuff.”

An ideal way to use up some bits of veg that might not otherwise constitute a full meal, and a quick, vegetable-rich dinner that can be prepared ahead of time and frozen into meal-sized microwaveable portions. The day after your kids have had this, you can give them pizza in front of the telly without your conscience pricking you!

You will need:

Butter (or vegetable oil)

Cumin seeds (optional)

Onions

Garlic

Turmeric (optional)

About six Maris Piper potatoes, or whatever you’ve got hanging around that will eventually get thrown away

Three carrots

A cauliflower

Some broccoli – a bit that’s starting to go slightly bendy in the back of the fridge will be fine

An apron

A hand blender

Salt and pepper

Cream (optional)

French Sauvignon Blanc

1. While you gently heat up a decent-sized lump of butter in a large saucepan, roughly chop 3 small onions (or two whoppers, whatever you’ve got)

2. Throw in a small handful – at least two teaspoons – of cumin seed. This will impart a discreet, autumnal warmth, as well as making your kitchen smell nice. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any, it won’t spoil your dinner.

Cumin and turmeric, the very soul of any self-respecting kitchen.

3. Add the onions and sweat/gently fry until soft. While this is going on, quickly peel and dice the potatoes.

4. Crush, or coarsely chop, four cloves of garlic (or more, if you really like garlic) and add it to the onions.

5. Put a kettle on to boil.

6. If you have turmeric, put a teaspoon into the pan and stir into the onion/garlic mixture. It will enrich the final colour of the soup. If you don’t have turmeric, make a mental note to get some tomorrow, which your brain will erase instantaneously.

7. Pile in the diced potatoes, and stir until they look attractively yellow and have bits of seeds and onion sticking to them. This brings no proven culinary advantage, but it’ll make you feel as though you’re doing something a little more exotic than just tossing stuff into a pot.

8. Go and get the newly-boiled kettle, and pour enough water into the pan to cover the potatoes. Then pour in a little extra, because you’ll be adding more vegetables in a moment.

9. Peel and chop the carrots, and add them to the now cheerfully boiling spuds. Leave them at it for a few minutes, while you clear up the terrible mess you’ve made of your worktop.

10. Cut the cauli into florets, and as little bits fall off left, right and centre, mumble a few dark imprecations about messing up your worktop again. Place into the pan, and do your best to stir them up while there’s already so much other stuff in there. Add some more water, probably.

Your kitchen will never speak to you again!

11. Quickly set the table, then repeat step 10 with the broccoli.

12. When everything in the pot is verging on mushiness, put on the apron, plug in the hand blender and cordon off the kitchen. Blend the contents of the pot to the desired consistency – if serving to children, you may wish to eliminate every trace of veg-betraying texture. Season, and add cream if desired.

13a. Grown-ups: serve with hot, crusty bread and a glass of either French Sauvignon Blanc, or, if heavier on the cumin, a decent entry-level Chianti. You can be forgiven for having opened these already, especially during step 12, when there mightn’t be much to do except wait for things to get squidgy.

13b. Kids: serve with a couple of soft rolls or a few slices of Sunblest, while cleaning up the kitchen and issuing constant reminders that they need to hurry up and get ready for cubs/guides/grade 2 bassoon/beginners’ cage fighting etc.

The kids need never know that this innocent-looking concoction contains health-giving ingredients!

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