KIDS COOK: Easy Chicken and Black Bean Soup with Quesadillas

Since making soup is one of my very favorite activities, I invited my junior chefs Josiah and Alaena (8 and 6, respectively), over to make one of the newer soups on the blog, EASY CHICKEN- BLACK BEAN SOUP, featured here last March. While some soups and stews are made from scratch ingredients, there are just as many made with a few goodies found ready to go or leftover in your kitchen.

Here’s a paragraph from the original post:

Most of the ingredients for this soup–or a similar soupcould be in your pantry or larder. If you’ve some beans and broth in the cupboard, onions in the drawer and carrots/celery in the veg bin for the mirepoix and some cooked chicken (maybe rotisserie chicken you didn’t finish last night?), you’re right on your way. A cook could go in one of many directions to make a filling, frugal, fast easy-tasty meal. Have white beans and rosemary for a Provencal twist? Pintos and a can of Rotel could spell out a fast chicken chili for your immediate future dinner. In fact, one of your kids (should you have any or can find a few to borrow) could do any of these with a bit of supervision and learn a bit about how to feed his/herself without spending a ton of time and cash, an important skill to have.

And that’s just about how we put this pot of goodness together.  Both kids did a bit of the prep work–collecting ingredients/equipment and cleaning and chopping vegetables. We didn’t go into depth with knife skills, but we made a beginning and focused on learning to keep fingers safe using a small chef’s knife. Josiah read the recipe that I’d stuck on the fridge with a magnet, checking off each ingredient as it was added and Alaena, on a stool at the counter and stove, measured ingredients into the pot. Half-way through, they switched jobs so that everyone had a turn with everything. Of course you can’t cook without doing a little math and it makes so much more sense when you’re looking at a measuring cup to see that 4 ounces = 1/2 cup of water, for instance, instead of just reading about it in a math book.

For 6-9 year olds, here are the skills we worked on over three lessons:

  1. Collecting/Prepping ingredients and equipment  (mise en place)
  2. Measuring
  3. Using a timer
  4. Reading and following a recipe. Adapting the recipe to your tastes.
  5. Beginning knife skills using smaller-sized knives
  6. Mixing/combining ingredients
  7. Seasoning
  8. Temperatures
  9. Working together in the kitchen
  10. Food safety — Examples: hand washing,  using one cutting board for raw meat and another for raw vegetables and determining when meat is done (165 degrees F for ground poultry)

Naturally, the most fun part of the morning was eating together and sharing the bounty with their mom. I sent soup home with them and they made another pot after a day or two. Impressive!!

 See if you can find some kids who’d like to make and eat their own lunch, as well as yours, and serve this with a cheese quesadilla or two (link to recipe below).  No kids around?  Try this anyway; you’ll be glad you did:


4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon each: butter and olive oil
  • 1 each: small onion, carrot, stalk celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine — can sub water or broth
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth (32 ounces)
  • 2 15-ounce cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh corn, optional
  • Hot sauce to taste (start with a couple of drops, adding more as needed)
  • CHOICE OF GARNISHES: Grated sharp cheddar, sour cream whisked with lime juice, chopped ripe avocado, pepitas, crushed tortilla chips, minced green onion, thinly sliced radish, fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fresh tomatoes (any or all)

Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a 5-6-quart heavy pot with lid.  Cook onion, carrot, celery, and jalapeño in covered pot, stirring occasionally, for five minutes until softened. Add garlic; cook another minute, stirring.  Season with 1 teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, the oregano and the cumin; stir.  Add white wine and let cook down 3-4 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, broth, beans, chicken, and corn, if using; bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with choice(s) of garnish(es).

{printable recipe}


Recipe for Williams Sonoma Cheese Quesadilla Recipe (Kids)

Kids and Family Tips Landing Page for Williams Sonoma

Cooking with Kids:  Food Network

Kids Cookbook List

Next up for KIDS COOK is Turkey Burgers with Fruit Salad, recipes Alaena and Josiah picked themselves. Stay tuned!

Enjoy this last bit of summer. Here in the Springs, we’ve been living with totally wild weather. Hail the size of baseballs (my yard, below, had much smaller hailstones) sending people and animals to the hospitals and, of course, ruining cars, roofs, windows, and siding. Rain and more rain; we’ve no complaints there, though, as we live out west and fire is such an omnipresent danger.

Cook a little soup, why don’t you?


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