I was recently asked to talk to my two year old daughter’s class at her school about vegetables and the different ways we can eat them. As you can imagine, I was very excited about the opportunity to influence such a young audience. I had the whole thing planned out in my head. I would explain to them why tomatoes are actually fruits, the different varieties of potatoes and their water content, and how corn can be used to ease the pain of a bad movie, used as vessels for cheese dip, or even fuel a car.
But then it hit me, these are two-year-olds. I would be lucky if they sat in their chairs long enough to boo me out of the classroom. I decided to simplify my whole approach and make soup out of the very vegetables they were learning about.
On one hand, if I could get them to eat vegetable soup and actually like it, my purpose would be completely fulfilled as a chef. On the other hand, these kids are scary, viciously honest little bundles of humble pie.
To my delight (and somewhat surprise), all eight kids ate the soup and loved it. The teachers may not have liked me very much afterwards because those kids made a huge mess of the soup all over the table, floor, their clothes, faces… EVERYWHERE! Of course I left swiftly before the “clean-up, clean-up” song began.
The best thing about the soup? It is incredibly easy to make.
Vegetable Soup – Approved by two year olds
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ tablespoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 oz basil – julienned (save basil stems)
3 potatoes – diced
6 whole carrots – peeled and diced
2 celery sticks – diced
1 each red and orange bell pepper – diced
1 large yellow onion – diced
6 cloves garlic – minced
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes – DO NOT DRAIN
1 can sweet corn – DO NOT DRAIN
1 can V-8 (you can use tomato juice, I just happened to have this in the fridge and wanted to get rid of it)
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (I prefer the flavor of chicken stock)
¼ cup lemon juice
3 bay leaves
1 stick salted butter
This is the easy part. In large pot over medium/high heat, heat oil and sauté next ten ingredients together for ten minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, cover pot and reduce heat to low, simmering for 1 ½ hours. Remove bay leaves and basil stems. Add the stick of butter and stir continuously until butter is completely melted. This recipe makes about 20 cups of hearty soup.
*Pictured in the soup is roasted & salted sugar snap peas. Toss 3 cups of sugar snap peas in 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper. Roast on sheet pan in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.