stone soup

For the storybook set
          A few years ago, I taught a cooking class for elementary aged children. This weekly class helped me to make a study of things that worked in a classroom setting... or didn't. I learned that kids want to cook together, have fun and eat good food.
     I urge you to make food preparation fun and involve everyone in your household, no matter their ages. From toddlers to teens, kids can do something. And don't forget other adults in your home... studies have shown that families who cook and dine together end up with healthy, long-lasting relationships.
     Before you make this delicious soup, you must do a couple of things. First, go to the childrens' section in your local public library and pick up a copy of the story, Stone Soup.
     It has been told and retold by countless authors and illustrators, so you should have several to choose from. Take it home, read it to your children, then go to the kitchen and cook... If you have no children, borrow a couple from the neighbors.
     This is a great recipe and everyone will eat it up. The ingredients are common and easy to keep on hand. I prefer fresh or frozen veggies to canned, but if you have canned beans or corn and don't want to make a trip to the market, by all means, use them.
     The most favorite item of all is the garlic croutons, of course. They are big in size and taste, garlicky, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You may need to make extra.
     In our cooking class, one adorable, freckle-faced, strawberry-haired boy, Daniel, loved the croutons so much, he forgot disdain for vegetables! He emptied his bowl and returned several times for more.
     His mom wanted to know how I had managed that;) I just love it when kids forget their phobias and EAT with enjoyment!
1 smooth, clean stone
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, cubed
6 c. chicken or vegetable stock
8 oz. frozen, cut green beans
8 oz. frozen corn
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
Heat oil in large stockpot. Saute onion and garlic until soft, not browned. Add carrots, sauté 1 minute. Add stock and potatoes. Simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add remaining 3 ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer until vegetables are heated through.
Garlic Croutons
½ loaf of Italian bread, cut into large cubes
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 T. olive oil
pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly minced herbs such as thyme or rosemary
For croutons: Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add garlic and toss bread cubes with salt, pepper and herbs. Stir around in skillet until toasted and browned. Serve on top of soup.
Note for the germaphobes among us: The stone is not a deal-breaker. If you cannot bring yourself to put a rock into the soup pot, just pretend. Read the story. You will understand it's significance.

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