A child-friendly recipe and a great way of using up back-of-the-fridge veg
The beauty of this recipe is that you can use up whatever you have in the fridge, or let your children loose in the market to pick up lots of wonderful veg.
How about challenging them to cook at least five different vegetables? Good for chopping practice—the vegetables will give plenty of opportunities for peeling, grating and slicing—and the perfect way to encourage a more adventurous diet.
Remember, once your children have mastered the safe ways to grip the knife and vegetable in question, a sharp blade is much safer than a blunt one, and graters can be lethal if a child is not shown how to keep their knuckles away from the sharp edges. It’s best for an adult to finish off smaller pieces of food. For tips on teaching your children safe knife techniques, have a look at the blog that inspired this recipe.
1cm piece fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
A selection of vegetables such as peppers, carrots, courgettes, pak choi, pumpkin, beans, or
Outer leaves from a stick of lemon grass (*see note below)
2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
100-150g noodles (dried rice, wheat, egg or buckwheat—that’s your choice)
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
3 spring onions, finely chopped
A few coriander or basil leaves
1-2 chillis, very finely sliced (optional—some kids do love a bit of heat)
1 lime, cut into quarters
Peel the ginger (try scraping the thin skin off with a teaspoon, it works remarkably well). Then grate or finely slice, depending on ability.
Cut the end off the garlic and peel away the skin. A garlic press is probably the easiest and most satisfying option for younger kids, but older children can cut the garlic up finely.
Wash, peel (if necessary) and chop up your vegetables such as peppers, carrots, pieces of pumpkin, courgette, pak choi, and trim any green beans or mangetouts. Divide the veggies into those that require slightly longer cooking, and all the tender greens, which will take just a matter of seconds to cook.
Heat up the stock in a large saucepan with the ginger, garlic and lemon grass. Once the stock is boiling, add your noodles and your longer cooking vegetables and boil until the noodles are tender (some only take 1-2 mins, so do look at the packet instructions).
Add the greens and then season the broth with soy sauce and sprinkle with spring onions and a few leaves of coriander or basil. Add a little chilli if using and serve with a wedge of lime.
ALTERNATIVE: Try shredding any leftover chicken from a roast and add to the broth for a couple of minutes, just to heat through.
*The outer leaves of lemongrass are ideal for flavouring stocks, just tie them together in a knot so that you can fish them out easily before serving the soup. Save the more tender, sliceable centre of the lemongrass for a curry or stew (you can freeze it if you are not ready to use straightaway).
Recipe: Jenny Chandler