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Swamp Soup
The creepier the better for some little kids! The bright green color of this soup will have them thinking about swamps. Hide a slice of carrot or a bean in the bottom of the bowl, and have them dig in the swamp for a muck monster. This soup is packed with vegetables and will warm you up on a cool day. The more you blend it, the smoother and silkier it gets. Serve with Parmesan crisps (see recipe below).

You might want to make sure your child knows how to really use a spoon before you go on this adventure. This is a great time for a splat mat on the floor.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups thinly sliced zucchini (3 medium)
  • 2 medium ripe avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • Prepared pesto (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups of the broth, the onion, garlic and nutmeg. When it is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the remaining 2 cups broth and the zucchini and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the zucchini is limp but still bright green. Remove the lid and allow the soup to cool slightly.

In a blender, puree the soup mixture with the avocado flesh in batches. Return the blended soup to the pan and warm on low, adding salt to taste. Stir in pesto to taste. Serves 4.

Variations:
Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Add a dollop of leftover pesto to this soup after you blend it, and let your child stir it in.

Float toast strips on top and have a bean jump from log to log.

Recipe Note: If your soup is still warm, leave the blender top open just a crack, and place a dish towel over the whole top of the blender to prevent the top from popping off.

Making Parmesan Crisps: Preheat a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, and spray with olive oil spray or add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place 1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese into the pan and spread it out to a thin layer with a spoon. Cook until bubbling, flip and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Place it on a plate to cool. Repeat, making as many as you want.

Adapted from The Toddler Café, by Jennifer Carden (Chronicle Books, 2008).