I try to feed the children a warm lunch, especially in the fall and winter, and so I often offer them soups. Lent complicates this a bit since most of my soups involve chicken broth and/or meat. And so I have been offering them beans. “I’m not much of a bean man,” my nine-year old son informed me. Undaunted, I prepared a few lessons on beans in an attempt to cultivate their interest and appreciation for the mighty little bean. So, we dissected a bean. We soaked beans and placed the hilium (the bean’s “belly button” facing up, down, left and right so see which way the roots would grow (hint: everything must obey gravity!); and we examined the sprouts that grew from the tiny black seed. They all seemed impressed. And so we started on the soup. This hearty Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup (on page 172 of the Continual Feast) is chock full of vegetables and is so healthy! I made it with black beans instead of pinto and with brown rice, instead of pasta, and added a bit of balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes (julienne cut and soaked in olive oil) to add a little kick. I served it warm with shredded cheese and some monastery bread.
Now I do have to admit that my 5year old daughter, Lily, did weep when she saw the soup, but she is an extraordinarily picky eater. As my husband said, “Well, children, looks aren’t everything when it comes to food.” And I don’t even think it looks bad, but you be the judge!
For my son’s entertainment, after we ate the soup, I gave the children another lesson on, um, well, you know the song... For an explanation on this intestinal mystery, go to http://ilovebacteria.com/beans.htm
For links to the lessons, go to: