Isn't it nice when something happens at random while you're cooking and leads to a surprising solution? That just happened while we were cooking with kids at school: The original plan was to cut snowflake shapes from slices of baked potatoes, add them to a very colorful vegetable soup, and play with their imagination. But the project of cutting the potatoes with the cookie cutters didn't work: The potatoes were too mushy to allow the neat plan.
So, instead of getting disappointed, I was taken by a very fast experiment that ended up working perfectly: They mashed potatoes with their own hands and made snowballs with them. Roasted cauliflower was cut in thin slices to make the pretend-to-be snowflakes. All was fun when the kids enjoyed throwing the "snowballs" and "snowflakes" into a pot filled with hot soup, also adding some white corn kernels. At the end of the process they were all surprised to see how the snowballs had "melted" into the soup.
The book read to inspire the kids to cook was the adorable Perfect Soup, by Lisa Moser, found in the local library by Carla, a mom and a teacher who volunteers with me in the Cooking Club at school. It's very easy reading for kindergartners and first-graders and has lots to offer to the kids. Something like the gift of sharing. Perfect to begin the new year with a good story and lots of inspiration for a new start (and more vegetables on our plate!).
Snowballs and Soup
By chance we've found that russet potatoes are good to roll the balls. Bake them in the oven or even microwave with the skin, so that the chefs can have extra work. I am still testing firmer potatoes to cut with cookie cutters.
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (if not homemade go for higher-quality ones from cartons, low-sodium and preferably organic)
2 cups water
1 cup tomato paste or your favorite tomato sauce
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup white corn kernels
3 baked russet potatoes, mashed with hands and shaped into "snowballs"
2 cups roasted cauliflower florets (with garlic powder and salt)
Parsley or cilantro leaves (to dress it up)
Japanese "snowflake" shape rice crackers (optional)