Friday, June 27, 2008

Soup’s on!

African peanut soup. Tunisian chickpea soup. Thai beef noodle. Miso. Minestrone. Gaspacho. And over 40 more soups.

Where are all these soups? In a cookbook that I’ve been pulling together the past few weeks while lying on the couch with my laptop (because when lying down, I don’t have the chest pains). I’ve gleaned tasty-sounding recipes from cookbooks I own, written up family recipes that no one previously recorded, asked friends for their favorite recipes, and surfed the ’Net. There’s no end to delicious-sounding recipes, and it’s hard to stop collecting them.

But why soups in the heat of summer? Because in September, when I begin homeschooling Alexandra and Larissa, I’ll be teaching a course in cooking, and specifically, cooking soup. These recipes will be in the instruction book for the cooking class.

“Teaching” them how to cook soups is really an exaggeration. Alexandra and Larissa are already good cooks and know far more than the basics of cooking. I’ve trained up all three kids since toddlerhood, a time when children want to imitate everything their parents do. It’s actually a test of patience to allow a toddler to “help” in the kitchen, yet when kids watch and help, they learn, and when they practice, they get better at a task. By early elementary school, all three of my children could bake a batch of cookies without me in the kitchen. (They weren’t quite as good at cleaning up, though.) Still, I was delighted to come home from work to the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Although baking cookies was the first thing all the kids learned, mainly because of marathon baking sessions at Christmastime, they also learned to cook main meals. Jacob bakes a great pizza. Larissa makes delicious quiche. And Alexandra can bake a savory chicken with mashed potatoes. All of them can read a recipe and follow it.

So in the fall, I won’t really be teaching cooking at all. I’ll simply hand all three their own soup cookbook, and then assign them the soup of the day, probably twice a week. And I’ll have them bake the occasional loaf of fresh bread to go with the soup. They’ll get the satisfaction of cooking dinner; I’ll have a reprieve from cooking!

I am curious how they’ll react to some of the more exotic soups, such as Mulligatawny, which has raw apples as a garnish, or Moroccan chickpea soup, which includes tahini as an ingredient. Larissa requested that I not cook any of the new soups in advance to test the recipes; she wants the results to be a surprise, a novelty. So as much as I’ve wanted to try my hand at cooking the bean sprout soup or the Vietnamese fisherman’s soup, I’ve refrained.

I got my idea for the cookbook here
. Although I won’t be including photos, I think it’s an excellent way to bind the book.

Since I’ve already gotten carried away in collecting recipes, we’ll be starting the soup cooking class a little early this summer – with the cold soups.

Oh, and the final exam? They’ll each have to cook a soup of their own, one that they make up using ingredients on hand – a little of this, a little of that. Isn’t that what soup cooking is all about?

1 comment:

dee said...

I just wanted you to know how refreshing it was to read profile. What a mom you are.You are making such a differance with your kids.Keep up the great work.What you said if everyone would give up something, what it would mean to families. Families that dont have food to eat,or homes like were used to. Help us Lord to be more like you.I am raising 2 of my grandchildren, Im homeschooling only 1. My email is

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)