Soup has made an appearance at our book club on several occasions (like HERE and HERE), but with good reason. This time of year, there is little more comforting than the smell of soup cooking on a cold winter day. Soup is also a fantastic healthy dish to cook with toddlers. Soup Day, by Melissa Iwai is about exactly that: a child preparing and cooking soup with her mother on a cold winter day. The book follows the duo as they shop for produce, cut up the vegetables when they return home, and play while the soup cooks. The book goes into detail about the ingredients with a little counting (two onions, three carrots, etc.) and shape identification of the cut ingredients (cubes, circles, etc.). It’s a simple story, but children can likely identify with the joy of completing an everyday task with a loved one. The last page of the book provides a recipe for the soup.
We followed the recipe in the book and as we read, the children in our group each added an ingredient to the soup. In order to make this a smooth experience, each family brought one of the soup’s ingredients measured, chopped, and slightly pre-cooked prior to our meeting (we divided the ingredients via email in advance). I learned during our Stone Soup meeting that certain ingredients take a longer time to cook than toddlers are often patient waiting for, so pre-softening vegetables in advance shortened our cooking time considerably and still resulted in a very tasty soup! Also, since some ingredients need to go in before others, I put a pot AND an extra bowl in the center of our circle with a little sticky note on each to remind us which ingredients to put in which. We then instructed the kids to add their ingredient to the appropriate pot/bowl as we read.
After we finished reading, the kids played while we finished cooking the soup on the stove. The soup was a delicious and relatively healthy snack that many of the kiddos enjoyed eating! We followed the recipe in the book very closely. This is a broth soup, so we found it helpful to give the kids both a spoon and a straw so they could slurp up the liquid. Be sure to give yourself extra time to let the soup cool before serving to the kiddos (or use ice cubes to help each bowl cool off like we did)!
We had a little extra soup, so we divvied up the remaining to anyone who wanted to take some home. After one of our families left, they encountered a person asking for food on the street. It was an exceptionally cold day. The mom from our group looked down and realized that she had the soup in her car, so she handed it over. I love that our soup provided not only food, but also perhaps a little warmth to this person–a better ending to our meeting than I could have imagined.