Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Recipe Connection: Blended Green Soup (for the kids!)

July 12th, 2013 · 13 Comments · Recipes

It seems kind of silly to post an asparagus soup recipe just as all the fresh asparagus is disappearing from even the northern states (waving while shivering). I almost saved this one for next spring, but I decided to present it as an experiment to share. Although this soup started out as a blended asparagus soup with the intent of cajoling my sons to eat asparagus before the season was over, you’ll notice it’s “blended green soup” in the title. I feel fairly confident that this soup base could be used with many green vegetables that usually don’t pass your children’s lips. The soup that will get kids to eat green veggies - Blended Asparagus Soup (or any green)

As I mentioned in my post about grown-up, real food tastebuds this week, I’ve recently finished reading French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen le Billon. The book is inspiring in many ways, not the least of which is the success the French have with teaching their children to not only tolerate but enjoy a variety of vegetables. One of the helpful strategies the author shares is to introduce new foods deliberately, with purpose, with a plan. The French often put a vegetable in a pureed soup first to allow children to get used to the flavor before having to worry about the texture or visually what it looks like. Then later in the same week, the same veggie will show up in a more “whole” form, often both raw and cooked, to keep exposure up. I took a page from the book and decided I would find/create a blended asparagus soup a few weeks ago, since asparagus was in-season, beloved my me, and disliked by 2 1/2 of my three kids. (The 5yo girl changes her mind from day to day…) It’s even one of the foods my husband used to dislike but now will tolerate, so I knew I would even be continuing to help his tastebuds appreciate it. Blended Green Soup with Asparagus I also made certain to follow a few of the other French “food rules” that day to ensure success of the newly introduced soup:

  1. We had no snacking or munching anywhere close to dinner. In fact, we might have even missed afternoon snack entirely that day, which was brilliant. Hungry children eat more vegetables.
  2. I served the soup first, before the rest of the meal even showed up on the table.
  3. I made it fun with buttery faces and worked VERY hard to serve it in a relaxed manner (even after I realized I had made a huge mistake). The French believe food should be above all enjoyable, and that is the overriding tone of every meal, which are also slow and relaxed. Let’s just say “slow and relaxed” doesn’t exactly describe the pace or tone of a normal meal at the Kimballs (we actually do eat slowly, much to my husband’s chagrin, but the part about “getting everyone served up” is always super hectic).

To find the soup recipe, I followed the strategy that I outline in Better Than a Box for creating one’s own dish, and I used a few recipes online plus recipes the author of French Kids Eat Everything listed in the back of her book, and I cobbled together something I thought my family would like. I present to you the magic asparagus soup, which did, incredibly, meet the goal I set out to accomplish. I love it when a plan comes together… Blended Green Soup with Asparagus

Recipe Connection: Blended Asparagus (or any green) Soup
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Recipe type: soup
Author: Katie Kimball
Prep time: 10 mins or less
Cook time: 15-30 mins
Total time: 30 mins max
Yield: 4
Introduce your family to vegetables the French way, by starting with a pureed soup featuring the new veggie.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil or butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small leek, white parts only, sliced in half moons
  • 1 small potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. water
  • 1-2 c. homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2-1 Tbs. fat (bacon grease, lard, tallow, butter)
  • about 3/4 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 1/2-1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • to serve: butter, Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, saute the onion and leek in oil/butter for 3-5 minutes until softening. Add the potato cubes and salt and cook and stir a few minutes more.
  2. Pour in the stock and water (or use all stock or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Smaller pieces will cook faster if you’re under a time crunch.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Wash it well, remove the ends by snapping them off, then cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces. Optionally, save the tips for a pretty garnish or silly faces. In a separate skillet, saute the asparagus until crisp tender in the additional fat (or cook slightly longer if necessary for blending).
  4. When the potatoes are soft and you’re ready to serve the soup, add the asparagus and dill to the soup base. Puree, either with a hand blender (this is difficult if the asparagus is only crisp tender) or in a full-sized blender. Just be careful with the hot liquid either way.
  5. Serve to children with little pats of butter making a happy face and grate Parmesan cheese and/or use a dash of dried dill for the hair and beard.
  6. It’s a beautiful green soup with a light flavor, perfect for a first course when the children are very hungry.
Notes
* The base of this soup can be made ahead then finished when ready to serve to maintain a bright green color. Leave the dill and asparagus out and cook and add them when it’s serving time. * If you’d like to save a pan, you can cook the asparagus right in the soup, but don’t add it until the last few minutes. You know me and dishes – I wouldn’t tell you to use a separate pan if it wouldn’t make things taste better. I think boiled asparagus loses a lot of the charm of the vegetable. * Inspired by this recipe. * A few other blended asparagus soups here and here.

The first time I made this soup, I forgot to add the dill until I had already impressed my children with my butter face making skills…I nearly got cranky about it, but then I remembered that the French enjoy food and make it fun…so out came the dill in a shaker to make hair and a beard! Later we added some Parmesan for the same fun effect. Blended Green Soup with Asparagus

The Results

Just so you remember, here’s where my children began in their relationship with asparagus that night:

  • Paul, 8: Turns up his nose in disgust every time it’s served. I make him take one bite, and he hates it.
  • Leah, 5: Sometimes says she loves asparagus, but not the tops. We joke that we’ll sit by each other and I’ll eat her tops, my favorite part, and share the stems from my plate with her. Every few times we eat it, she claims she absolutely does not like asparagus. ???
  • John, 22 months: Ignores the asparagus on his plate every time it’s been served as a sauteed veggie. Generally loves meat and fruit and the occasional vegetable.

When we had asparagus soup a la butter face, it went quite well, although everyone was surprised to have soup as a “starter” and the real meal coming afterward. Blended Green Soup with Asparagus Leah adored the faces, John stirred them in before I even finished (but proceeded to lap up almost 3 bowls!) and Paul really enjoyed watching the butter melt into puddles in his soup and marveled that they stayed where they were even after completely melting. He also ate two bowls, slightly grudgingly, but far more asparagus than the one lonely bite he’ll usually allow past his lips. All in all, it was a very good experiment and highly enjoyable. If only I could have kept up the good attitude for the rest of the meal… Sad smile

Your Turn: The Experiment

What green vegetable do your kids turn up their noses at? With the mild base of potatoes and leek, I feel pretty certain that this soup – with or without the dilly hair – would do just great with many other veggies: zucchini, spinach, broccoli, green beans, peas, etc. What do you think? Will it taste good? Will it work on your kids? Be sure to get them to the table hungry, and try the butter faces – that worked far, far more effectively than I ever expected. My kids even ate leftovers for lunch later in the same week, so it wasn’t a total fluke. Please let us know in the comments what veggies you try in place of the asparagus and how much you use (and if you swap the dill for something else, omit it, or leave it in). Of course, you can try it with asparagus too – it’s delectable.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing the recipe. Someone told me the French kids book is for about 3 yr and up. Any tips/resources for 1-3 yrs? My little guy used to eat everything I served him. I don’t know what happened, but he has become so picky and stern.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jennifer, I’d say you got some bad intel. ;) The author’s children are 18 mos. and 5 in the book, and she absolutely covers eating from the very beginning, including the fact that at about 2yo, children start to be pickier… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Diana Reply:

    And she says that you’re just supposed to push through the picky stage, still offering a variety of foods, expecting them to get over it eventually and they will. Here’s hoping it works in our house! :)

    This sounds great! Definitely going to be trying it with zucchini. I bet the potato gives it really nice body. Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Christina Reply:

    I haven’t read the book but I can testify that “pushing through” the picky stage can definitely work! My little girl who is now almost 2 was a picky eater from the time she started solids until a month or two ago when the words “try some” entered her vocabulary and her palate greatly expanded (she also gained weight for the first time in close to a year!). The only thing other than time that could have caused the transition is having an older sister who is a fantastic eater.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Ok. I’m getting it! Thanks for setting my facts straight.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cathy

    That sounds delicious. Too bad asparagus season is long gone–if our zucchini ever get going we will have to try it. That is one vegetable that both of my children need some coaxing to eat. Asparagus is fine with them the first few times we serve it, but when it’s in season I usually get 2 bunches a week to get a deal at Farmer’s Market, so by the end of spring disguising it in soup would be great!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sheila

    How do you dish out food for dinner? I have always made the plates in the kitchen and brought them out, but I’m beginning to think our family is big enough to serve meals “family-style” with all the dishes on the table at the beginning. I’m thinking it might make dinnertime a little less hectic and let the kids learn a bit about choosing a good portion size (though I think we’ll still do the serving for a few more years).

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sheila,
    Oh, goodness, we’re such a hodgepodge. Often we just dish up from the stove, but sometimes I’ll bring things to the table. Depends on what we’re having and how many piles of papers I’m trying to balance on the end of the table we don’t need… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Allison

    “Hungry kids eat more vegetables”–so true–I love it! Thanks for the yummy recipe. I can’t wait to try it. After living a few years in Europe, I’ve become much more in love with savoring meals and eating them slowly. I really believe in the whole family eating the same meal and it has worked so far. I’m curious about the book now…looks like a good read.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anastacia

    Excited to try this recipe! However, my hubby doesn’t like onions or anything with mild onion flavor…it’s a shame I know! Any recommendations for subbing the onion out or should I use less onion? I’m trying to slowing integrate the onion flavor without it over powering the dish. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Anastacia,
    I would just leave the onion out and rely on the leek to give some extra flavor – it’s in the onion family but so mild. Get him to love leeks, then move onto onions. Good luck!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sara Reply:

    I don’t like onions, either; but, I do like garlic. I have had good success in a number of recipes by using garlic, parsley, and lemon to add a savory flavor that is not overwhelming; sometimes I add mint, too. Garlic may also be roasted, to make it even milder.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Beth

    Hmm . . . my kids love roasted asparagus. I think they mostly like the crispy tops. But my son hates potatoes in all forms – which seems like boarder-line insanity to his somewhat Irish, mid-western mommy. But this reminds me that pureed veggie soups are great even if you are the weird mom who is hiding the potatoes behind the green stuff!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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