The Soup Games

By Casey Seidenberg

Does anyone else out there have two boys close in age? If you do, please tell me your household gets competitive? My boys race to see who can get ready for bed the fastest, who can kick their laundry down the stairs the farthest, who can hit the fence with the wiffle ball the most times, and who can build the biggest Lego creation ever known to man.

I decided to capitalize on this abundance of competition in our household, and thus the Soup Games were born.

Scores are tallied for the Soup Games. (Casey Seidenberg ) Each week during winter, when our bodies crave warming food like soup, the boys pick out a recipe that appeals to them. They have the best time poring through cookbooks (I bought two just on soups). Then we make both of their chosen soups on Sunday and we judge them over dinner. The boys’ grand­parents come over most Sundays, so we have a judging panel of six.

The boys created a master chart that we hung on the kitchen wall listing all of the soups and their ratings. Adding up the totals provided a little math practice, which certainly never hurt anyone! By the end of each winter we have quite a record.

The soups started out very basic. We were eating chicken noodle, chicken alphabet and tomato. But eventually the boys became more adventurous. The competition moved from whose soup would score the most points to who could find the most unusual yet delicious soup. The three outstanding winners from that first year were red lentil, black bean and peanut (find recipes for the latter two below).

I assure you, before our Soup Games began, my boys were not shoveling broccoli or chickpea soup into their mouths. But now they are, along with green cabbage, pumpkin and tortilla soups. And because boys will be boys, they still compete to see who can eat it the fastest or who can score the most pieces of bread with their soup, but at least they are finishing with a warm belly of healthy food.

The other upside of soup night is the leftovers, providing a week of delicious lunches and a freezer full of future dinners.

By Casey Seidenberg. First printed in the Washington Post on January 19, 2011