Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup!

Most days, children at Bloom! Montessori have the option of purchasing delicious, nutritious lunches from Revolution Foods, a great company started by two mothers and former school teachers who wanted to improve the nutritional standards of American school lunches. However, yesterday was Veteran's Day, and Revolution Foods was closed. So, what's a preschool class to do? Make lunch ourselves!

For our Veteran's Day menu, we decided on a child-friendly classic- homemade chicken noodle soup!

If you have ever considered a cooking project with preschoolers, this is one I heartily recommend. The ingredients are simple, the result is delicious, and it is something that with a little practice, children can accomplish almost completely independently- children can chop the mirepoix, mix the pasta dough, and roll and cut the noodles themselves.

All afternoon, the fragrant aroma of garlic, herbs, and sauteed onions, wafted through the school as the ingredients reduced into a richly flavored savory broth. Meanwhile, our little brigade of sous chefs took to the important task of noodle making. The children learned the traditional technique of making a mound of 00 flour, adding the remaining ingredients to the well, and using a fork to incorporate the remaining flour. Then, they took turns expertly mixing and kneading small batches of the sticky pasta dough in their little hands.

Once the dough had rested for a few minutes, we were ready to break out the hand crank pasta maker. We apportioned the dough, so that each child got their own small ball, and demonstrated how to use the pasta maker.

First, the children learned to fold the dough and feed it through the two large rollers which would flatten it into a large noodle.

Then, the children learned to feed it through the smaller rollers which cut it into noodles.

The children took turns using the pasta maker to turn their little balls of fresh pasta dough into long, thin noodles.

Then the children took to carefully separating each pasta strand

and hanging them on the rack to dry.

All day, the delicious aroma of garlic, onions, and herbs wafter through the school. At lunch time, the children crowded around the lunch tables, to receive their reward of fragrant, steaming bowls of homemade soup.

Unfortunately, the batteries on the classroom camera ran out before lunch time, but the children absolutely adored the soup. They happily slurped the homemade noodles, picked out their favorite tasty bits, and drank the savory broth. Many of the children had three bowls of soup and by the time lunch was finished, the soup pot was completely empty!

Not surprisingly, many of the children asked if we could make soup again tomorrow. Perhaps, we will need to add a monthly soup making day to our menu!

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