Comfort Food “Whatever You Want Soup” and “Adult Soup” That We Grandmas May Cook With Our Grandchildren But Must Forbid Them To Eat

cookingWhen this Grandma was a child a pot of soup was always on the stove in our house.  GG (great grandmother, my mother) came from a time and place of limited food supply and she always remembered that soup was a stable of her diet, and made it a staple of ours.  I never realized until I was an adult that filling up on nourishing soup was a way to limit calorie intake too.  We can fill up with a great comfort food soup for weight maintenance.  My adult children loved her soup recipes when they were children, which they now ask me to make.  GG never could cook small, so the recipes are made for an army and made to freeze in small containers today for later eating.  This Grandma inherited her inability to cook small, but I have adapted her recipes to today’s quest for natural  and organic and ease in preparation.

My grandchildren will eat and love GG’s chicken soup, which is found at this post, The Best Chicken Soup Anyone Has Ever Tasted: G G’s European Old Fashioned Chicken Soup Step by Step.

My grandchildren will not eat her vegetable soup recipes.  Why?  Just look at the title.  However, it is fun to shop for the vegetable soup and make the vegetable soup.  The impetus for this post to share GG’s vegetable soup recipes was twofold.  First, when winter hits, the media emphasizes comfort food, that which will keep us warm and nourish us during the cold, and GG’s old world soups surely accomplish that goal.  Second, the New York Times, January 11, 2017 had “The Guide: Mastering the Basics of Soup,” which made me realize that the author, Samin Nosrat, was channeling GG and so should I.  The guide to “Whatever You Want Soup” and other soups, including their version of chicken soup,  can be found at this link.

GG treated her vegetable soup recipes as the New York Times “Whatever You Want Soup.”  In a huge pot, she started by cooking diced onions and celery in oil.  Then she added a base of meat, as they recommend to do, but GG usually added both fresh chicken and fresh meat, usually flanken for fat and flavor, and she browned the salted and peppered meat and chicken in oil before adding liquid.  Then GG added a mix of bullion made with a mixture of chicken and beef bullion cubes and boiling water.  Sometimes she mixed it up by adding canned diced tomatoes with the liquid.  She brought this to another boil and simmered the meat alone in the desired liquid for an hour or so, or so it seemed.  She sometimes only used chicken and sometimes only used beef, and sometimes only used barley and beans as a vegetable only base.  GG used inexpensive cuts of meat that required long cooking to tenderize.  When she added barley or beans, and would add those with the meat as they needed longer to cook.  For some reason, lima beans were one of her favorites.  When she used only chicken, it did not need to cook as long before adding vegetables.

When the meat had cooked for a long while, then GG added diced fresh vegetables, whatever was in the house or whatever she felt like adding, bring the soup to another boil, and simmer again.  Many times she would allow me to choose what to add.   She cooked this soup much longer than the recipe in the New York Times, until everything was soft and somewhat mushy.  Sometimes she added small pasta to the soup, like a minestrone soup.  As the soup simmered, GG added salt and pepper to taste, exaggerated savoring of the delicious taste of the soup.  Sometimes she shredded the meat and chicken and put it back in the soup.  The soup became a meal unto itself when she did that.  Sometimes we had sandwiches of the meat and chicken with the soup, or took the sandwiches to school the next day.

GG always would include us in any of her creations, but tell us when the creation was somewhat exotic, for example, including a kind of meat we ordinarily did not eat or a kind of vegetable that we would not ordinarily taste, that this batch of soup was for adults only.  Then, of course, we children wanted to taste it.  We grandmas can use GG’s trick to get your grandchildren to eat meat or vegetables they would not ordinarily eat.  Start with GG’s basic chicken soup.  This the grandchildren will devour with noodles or rice.  Then take some of the pot of soup and add shitake mushrooms and sprouts you purchased while shopping for the chicken soup ingredients to that batch and tell the children this set aside soup is special, for adults only, and savor the soup, saying how wonderful it is.  The grandchildren will, more likely than not want a taste as they love the basic chicken soup without the added ingredients.  You can use this same technique for vegetable soup, making it first just a pasta soup, with the kind of small pasta they pick out.  Set some aside and add a common vegetable or two, like carrots and chopped green beans only, and one more vegetable like broccoli, and tell the grandchildren this set aside soup is now adult and not for them.  We all want what we cannot have.

It is amazing what this Grandma tasted and ate as a child by GG using this reverse psychology.  I now eat and love sweetbreads because of how she presented this to us, taking us shopping for the raw brains and discussing with the butcher how this is such an adult delicacy and not for children, cooking it and not allowing us to even watch her, so we tried to catch glimpses, and her savoring it as she tasted and ate it.  We begged for a taste and developed a sophisticated palate.  This technique also works when taking grandchildren to restaurants.  Tell them you are ordering food that is for adults only and they cannot have it.  Patience and exaggerated bad acting are a must.  Even if the grandchildren do not taste anything, they will surely laugh.

Today, this Grandma receives specific orders of desired meats and vegetables and barley or pasta to add to the soup from the parents of the grandchildren, so the soup is different every time I make it.  That is why I love the New York Times article title for the soup, “Whatever You Want Soup.” However, when with grandchildren, I would temporarily rename it, “Adults Only Soup.”

As modern shortcuts, I use gluten free organic broth by Pacific as the broth base and just open the container and pour.  I use Muir Glen Organic Whole Crushed Tomatoes; USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.  Muir Glen canned goods are recommended by the great chef Billy at Canyon Ranch Lenox as the best.  I use olive oil. I use fresh organic vegetables and try to use farm raised and farm finished meats (Billy says farm finished is most important).  When I am really lazy, I buy packages of already diced onions and celery, and prepackaged cut vegetables, organic if I can find them at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  I also double the recipe when I am visiting my adult children, and freeze amounts in individual containers for later meals after I leave.  We can help our overworked and time challenged parents of our grandchildren by leaving them healthy meals to quickly eat in our absence.

Now, the fun part with grandchildren is to take them along in the process.  On the internet explore and ask them to find vegetables that they think their parents have never tasted to put in the soup, so their parents are surprised with new vegetables too.  Add fresh spinach and kale so they can see what happens to the quantity after it is cooked in the soup.  Learn how to select the best vegetables.  Have them find the best fresh carrots and other vegetables.  Pick by color or by smell.  Reinforce that we are doing this for the adults, and this is not for children.

Shopping in the supermarket is a great learning experience for children, and, other than knowing grandma must allow them to select one sweet for themselves before leaving the supermarket, is an inexpensive activity.  To make it successful, make the outing one that is targeted for one goal, like making “Adults Only Soup.” Or start with chicken soup.  Review the recipe and make the shopping list with grandchildren at home.  Give them their own copy, what they are going to search for, and off you go.  With younger children, it is better to buy precut and prepackaged for them to be able to make the soup with you, so no cutting or dicing is required and the preparation is easy and quick.  Then pick some adult additions for the adult portions of the soup.

For those of you with toddlers, or those who want even more variety in preparation, when we were younger, GG would sometimes mash some of the soup in a hand blender so it was somewhat like a smooth cream soup.  Try it.  It is amazingly delicious.  And, for “Adults Only Soup,” you might add a little cream too.  Our one pot of soup as children could be several different meals due to GG’s creativity.

Remember, there should be no pressure on the grandchildren to taste anything.  After all, we grandparents are all joy and no responsibility.  We savor, we act, we exaggerate our enjoyment.  We tell the children that they can taste the “adult soup” or adult food when they can drive a car or vote, and not before.  Let them beg for a taste.  Let the parents be the ones to force them to try new foods.  We encourage by exaggerated example and bad acting, not pressure, and with








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