Tuesday, June 16, 2015


It's hit me over the past few days that Cooper has only four years left before college.

Four years.

That's not a lot of time to fit in everything we still want/need to do.

Instead of moping about it, tonight I decided to do something. I taught Cooper how to make soup without a recipe.

With Cooper at my side, I gathered ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator. I chopped. I talked him through the sautéing, stirring, boiling, etc., and let him do that work.

The "recipe" as it was created:

Tortellini Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
12 baby carrots, sliced
Garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cups vegetable broth
1 large tomato, chopped
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large package refrigerated cheese tortellini
4 oz. fresh spinach
Crushed red pepper

1. Heat olive oil.
2. Sauté onions for about five minutes.
3. Add carrots. Continue to sauté for another five minutes.
4. Add garlic powder and salt. (Lots of garlic, just a little salt)
5. Stir for 30 seconds.
6. Add broth, tomato and basil.
7. Bring to boil.
8. Add kidney beans.
9. Lower to simmer for 5 minutes.
10. Return to boil.
11. Add tortellini.
12. Cook for about 6 minutes.
13. Add spinach.
14. Cook for about 1 minute.
15. Add a little crushed red pepper


As he cooked, we brainstormed other options. We would have used fresh garlic, but I'm out. Green bell pepper would have been a good option. I wanted to serve with Parmesan, but we're out of that, too.

We talked about layering ingredients, about using what we have, about ways to make the whole soup more Tex-Mex, less Italian by changing a couple of veggies and spices. We talked about cooking with veggie broth instead of chicken because Katie is a vegetarian.

The results were delicious.

Learning how to create a meal from ingredients you have on hand is a skill that's taken me years to acquire. I don't expect my almost-14-year-old son will perfect it right away. But I don't want to waste the days of these next four years.

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