Friday, February 1, 2013

The Case of the Brussels Sprout Soup

On Monday I made Brussels sprout soup. We ate the soup for dinner with mixed results. Dar and I loved it. Uri was ambivalent but finished his bowl. Eden said that the soup looked disgusting. I got her to take a tiny sip by telling her that I’m sure the soup doesn’t taste as bad as she thinks it does. She tasted, spit out, and said only: “It does.”

When we got back home on Tuesday. Uri requested that I heat a bowl of the soup for him. I was busy prepping for dinner and suggested that he get the soup out of the fridge and heat some for himself. He is twelve, after all, and knows how to use the microwave. But Uri wanted me to get him the soup. He nagged, stomped his feet, told me I was a bad mother, complained that he was dying of hunger, and finally stalked off to his clarinet lesson with many an accusatory glance. After the lesson, weighed with guilt, I heated him some soup.

Parenting experts often say that a mother (or father) should not do for the children what the children can do for themselves. These experts would probably be appalled by the amount of indulgence going on at my house. I twist water bottle caps open for the kids, bring them clothes to bed, wake them up in the morning, make them breakfast, lunch and dinner, help with homework, carry Eden’s backpack to school, and I always, always, bring forgotten lunches, projects, homework folders, and jackets to school.

Every once in a while, as in the case of the Brussels sprout soup, I try to stand up for myself, thinking that I might teach the children some independence and self reliance. And as in the case of the Brussels sprout soup, more often than not the result is total failure. On Tuesday, for example, I found myself guilty that the child had his clarinet lesson without food and then guilty for giving in and heating up the soup.

Wendy Mogel, in her fabulous parenting book Blessings of a Skinned Knee, suggests that calling a family meeting and announcing that “things are going to change here from now on” is not the way to implement change. Instead of drastic reorganizations, it might be better to make subtle changes.

In recent months, I taught the kids how to use the microwave, make themselves a bagel with cream cheese, and put clothes in the laundry machine and the dryer. They’ve also began to do homework much more independently than before. True, I have more failures than successes in my attempts to get them to become contributing members of our small family community, but the general direction is good. I am hopeful that by the time they go to college, they will at least have an idea of how to wash their own clothes. Perhaps they’ll eat more than just take-out pizza, and (to quote an amusing example from parenting expert Madeline Levine), they won’t feel that they need to call me in order to find out where their next class is.

Brussels Sprout Soup Recipe

One pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and with the top leaves removed
One onion, diced
One large potato, cut into cubes
One zucchini, diced
Garlic to taste, sliced
About 4-6 cups of vegetable soup broth, just enough to cover the vegetables

Sauté the onion and garlic till caramelized.
Add Brussels sprout and diced zucchini and pour in vegetable broth till covered.
Let boil and then cook for 20 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are soft.
Mash together till smooth in the blender and return to pot.
Cut the potato to cubes and add to soup, let it boil again and cook for 30 minutes till the potato cubes are soft. Stir every few minutes to make sure the potatoes do not sink and stick to the bottom of the pot.


For more on this topic:
Wendy Mogel's Myths about Raising Self Reliant Children
Madeline Levine's Website


  1. WOW! THanks for this recipe! I love brussel sprouts.
    I was in the grocery store the other day and walked behind a mom with her twin sons who were about 7. She was making them do ALL of the shopping! It was awesome. They had to keep looking at the list, then clarify with her, but they were doing pretty good. I just kept thinking about most teens now a days go to college without ever learning this! I'm so happy to hear you didn't give in.

    1. That is a great idea, Terry Lynn, thanks! I will remember it next time I go to the grocery store. It will make my hope about the less pizza and more nutritious food more likely :)

  2. She made everything for her son
    She washed, cooked, fed
    She walked him to Gadna Avir camp
    She traveled by bus to the military camp
    To check her boy.
    Maybe she even checked if the tank is safe enough for him.
    She prepared a chicken for the week in the Technion.
    She prepared sandwiches for the trip in America.
    What was the end of the story?
    He stomped the sandwiches and became too independent.

    1. Your poem is inaccurate
      She may have made him everything
      And got him chocolate every day
      But she's the one who yelled at him
      And made him stay at school.
      She also had him put away
      His bed every morning
      And though she worried over him
      She let him go across the ocean.
      I think there's two sides to every tale
      And he came out quite very well.
      So there!


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