I love experimenting with ways to get my kids to eat their vegetables. Pizza is definitely a good way – but I have found that soup and smoothies is another one. One day we happen to be at Cost-Co when they were demoing the Vitamix blender. The man behind the counter was just about to make a “Princess and the Frog” smoothie. Of course the kids were intrigued. Anything that has the word princess in it gets their attention. So we decided to watch him – he threw in a banana, a whole orange (with just the orange skin removed), some grape juice, pineapple, and a ton of spinach. Yes, the smoothie was green. But, they both tried it and LOVED it. I seriously almost walked out that way with the Vitamix, but decided my Waring blender would work just fine – I just have to peel the orange though.
Then there is soup – both my kids love carrot soup, and even pumpkin soup – as long as there are no distinguishable vegetables in sight. So, I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and I decided I must give it a try. The soup was delicious – both of my kids ate it – and although my younger one was not super crazy about it, she did manage to eat most of her bowl. What I liked most about the soup was how creamy it was without using any milk or cream. The cheese gave it a great flavor, and as the recipe mentioned, by cooking the broccoli to death, it really takes most of the bitterness out. I felt good that night when they went to sleep that they had gotten a well-balanced meal…without any grape juice.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick-slices
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
- pinch or cayenne pepper
- table salt
- 3-4 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 ounces baby spinach
- 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine, plus extra for serving
Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and baking soad. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
Add broth and 2 cups of water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to summer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to the Dutch oven, and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Adjust consistency of the soup with up to 1 cup of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.
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