Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with…pasta?

Ahhhh…..homemade soup.

I was sick recently and got the urge to make the first batch of the year. I was also actually feeling very patient that day, so I invited my girls to help me make it. Sometimes I get a response like, “But we’re playing!” but that day I got two bright “Okay!”s.

Now that they’re getting older, I let them do more work with recipes, which is probably part of the reason they were so eager to help. In past years they would only get to do a few jobs, but now they’re using sharp knives, operating an electric chopper, stirring things over the stove, and the latest excitement — learning how to use the new handheld can opener!

So, like it says in the book, we set out to make chicken soup with rice. However, we were out of rice, which is a rare occurrence. Instead, we used gluten-free pasta, using my sister-in-law’s recipe with a few modifications. The girls proudly wore their two (of many) aprons that my Great Grandma Bertha handmade for herself many years ago. And they brought me mine, too, since I always seem to forget to wear it.

Before we start, we always turn on happy music to send out good vibes for the process, and after a quick reminder to take turns without fighting, we are good to go. (The way I see it: nothing spoils KQT  – Kitchen Quality Time – for a Mom like quarreling kids.)

Here are some of the jobs my 8 year old daughters took care of with this recipe:

I kept a few jobs to myself like cutting the chicken up and dumping everything into the boiling water, but overall they were able to help with almost everything. And we were all in good moods, which definitely helped keep things fun. There have been times we’ve set out to do a recipe where there are arguments between my girls about whose turn it was to dump a tablespoon of something into a recipe, and I was feeling short-tempered and sent them out of the room crying. There have been other times when I was rushed for time and impatient with their attempts to help. Again: not a good combination. There have been memorable, happy times as well, of course. Good, bad and downright ugly — it’s all happened in our kitchen.

I have learned that, personally, there are two main prerequisites for making food with my kids: lots of patience and lots of time. If I don’t have both of those, it just doesn’t work for us. Thankfully, this particular soup-making day was one of the good ones, completely without incident. Those happy times are the ones I cherish with my girls, and I know they do, too.

I could list a bunch of reasons why it’s important to get your kids into the kitchen with you, but I won’t. We all know that learning to help with recipes will teach your kids lots of valuable things, like measuring skills, following directions, learning kitchen terminology, how to use different tools, etc.  But for me the main reasons I ask my kids to help me with a recipe are: the quality time it gives us and the pride they take in being part of a successful gluten-free food discovery. All of the other things are just icing on the cake.

For those of you who would like some more motivation to include your kids,
try these 5 inspiring articles from these helpful websites:

Get your kids in the mood to help make soup by reading these wonderful children’s books together. If you don’t have them, here are cute videos of Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup With Rice (sung by Carole King) and Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup.

If you’d like to see the soup recipe we followed, it’s the last recipe on the last page of this PDF: Gluten-Free Kid-Friendly Recipes

What’s your favorite kind of food to make with your kids? What factors come into play as you decide to let them help or not: time constraints, moods, number of ways they can help, etc.?  What are some ways you make kitchen time quality time? Feel free to post pix of your kids cooking on my Facebook page to help inspire others.

Illustration from Chicken Soup With Rice © by Maurice Sendak

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2 thoughts on “Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with…pasta?

  1. Thanks for this site! I have a daughter, nearly 4, who has celiac (diagnosed at age 3) and it’s always great to find other families who are struggling (at times) and succeeding at living G free with young children.

    Love the honesty about cooking with kids and the great tips! My daughter also loves to cook with me but I’m sure when her brother (now 3 months) us old enough to help it will be mire challenging 🙂 and fun!

    • Thanks Dana! I appreciate your nice comment. So glad you found the site, and that you’re enjoying the tips so far. If you’re on Facebook, please join us — there are a lot of great conversations going on here and there between fellow Moms of g-free kids. Keep in touch! -Katie

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