Are you interested in expanding those kiddie taste buds that don't venture beyond chicken noodle soup? A great way to start is by taking the familiar and giving it a small expansion. Case in point: kid-friendly Thai soup and Japanese soup.

Thai Soup

This Thai soup is based on the traditional tom kha gai soup — which is a chicken galanga (root) soup that has an amazing blend of spices balanced just right between spicy, tangy, and sweet. It's not always easy to get kids interested in spicy, so this is modified.

Saute in a skillet:

  • bite-sized cuts of organic chicken
  • one onion until caramelized
  • one stalk of lemongrass
  • three slices of galanga root (You can get a powdered version in Asian markets if you can't find the root, although bigger grocery stores often carry it.)

Bring to a boil in a soup pot:

  • one container of an organic chicken broth
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of chopped vegetables your kids like (For adults, it's carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, and red bell peppers.)

After you've gotten the broth boiling, put on low heat and add contents from the skillet.

Optional: Cilantro and red chile paste can be added or deleted to taste. You can add these to each individual portion.

This soup is certainly not authentic, but it's a very nice close approximation to real tom kha gai. The kids usually react positively to both the chicken and the sweetness of the coconut milk. They get to exercise their taste buds a little bit and have a nice yummy soup to keep them warm.

Japanese Soup

So many American kids live for anime and Hello Kitty — why not help the kids discover life beyond Japanese TV and cuteness?

Inpsiration for this soup came while living in southern Japan, though it has been modified a bit for an American children. Any time my kids want an afternoon with a Miyazaki film — like My Neighbor Totoro — I put on this soup for them too.

Mix in a soup pot:

  • a container of vegetable broth
  • a couple of additional cups of water
  • a packet of dehydrated miso soup mix or a spoonful of refrigerated miso soup mix
  • a package of shiitake mushrooms (We usually have the dried kind, which we soak in water for a couple hours to rehydrate before making the soup.)
  • 6 potatoes chopped up, peeled or unpeeled (the Japanese peel)
  • a twig of rosemary
  • salt or soy sauce to taste

Bring to a boil, then simmer and serve.

Optional: We like chives on top but some kids are onion-adverse. We often put in seaweed as well.

It's a strong, vegetarian soup — hearty and filling.