what we ate for lunch

Today, one of my children dry heaved at lunch. He wasn’t sick, either. He just didn’t like the food.

The other kids hated the meal just as much, but, with the reward of a peanut butter apple dangling over their heads, they plodded onward, using their bits of rationed toast (“no more until your soup is all gone!”) to scoop up the bits of pasta and spinach.

However, when the gagging happened, I threw in the towel. They were mostly done anyway and I was sick of playing The Evil Witch. The chickens got the dregs and the kids got their apples.

I suppose I should feel guilty that my kids suffer through their meals so. Many people think it’s ridiculous, wrong even, to make children eat something they don’t like. I don’t feel any remorse, though. Just prickly irritation. Dagnabbit, you ungrateful wretches, THIS IS GOOD FOOD! Buck up and eat it and don’t forget to kiss my feet and say thank you when you’re done!

Good grief.

(For the record, I regularly make my kids eat foods they don’t prefer, such as—and it depends on the child—dried beans, peas, squash, stewed apples, semi-burnt toast crusts, tomato chunks, egg casserole, oatmeal, potato peels, etc. Foods I choose not to push include peanut butter, dark chocolate, burnt toast crusts, kale, mushrooms, meat, pie, polenta, and grapefruit. Don’t waste time trying to find a rhyme or reason because there mostly isn’t one. Also, if you have any brilliant food-and-kid policies, feel free to share.)

I loved the soup. Loved, loved, loved it. It fed my soul.

But after our tumultuous lunch, I started to feel like maybe I was weird for liking it, so I looked the recipe up on-line again, this time checking the comments. Everyone raved about it which made me feel better.

Clearly, my kids are the weird ones, not me. I will never doubt myself again.

Nor will I try to feed them this soup for a very, very, very long time.

Spinach Lemon Orzo Soup
Adapted from sprinkledwithflour’s recipe on the Tasty Kitchen Blog

This soup is bright and flavorful and spicy and alive. I think the kids were reacting to the textures more than the tastes. They’d probably like it just fine if I used shell pasta and broccoli in place of the orzo and spinach. A bit of ground sausage (or shrimp!) wouldn’t hurt either.

a hearty drizzle of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 ample cup orzo
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, drained
6 cups chicken broth (part of which can be water)
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the lemon zest, red pepper and thyme and stir for a couple minutes. Stir in the orzo and spinach and toss around until heated through. Add the broth, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is nearly tender. Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and add to the soup. Cook for several more minutes. Taste to correct seasonings before ladling into bowls and sprinkling with Parmesan. Serve with buttered toast.

This same time, years previous: kiddling shenanigans


  • Anonymous

    I make this soup but a little bit toned down.
    I mellow out the spinach and lemon by using natural yoghurt right at the end and maybe a little cream. Also make sure when you cook the spinach you do it in an enamel pot- stops the spinach having that bitter mettalic taste. I also blend it all together and call it Dragon Soup. I'd omit the chilli for little people and instead of thyme put parsley. I'd also put white rice in instead of pasta to make it a gluten free dish. Sometimes I put cut up potatoes in it as well. Its definitely a VERY popular dish in my house.

  • Unknown

    My two year old is more adventurous food wise then his 5 year old brother, but I'm pretty sure they would have turned their noses up at that soup too.

  • melodie davis

    I always say "I guess your taste buds for that haven't come in yet." I really do think there is truth in that. Things that made me gag as a kid I love now. Why? My 25 year old daughter loves some strange and strong things but the texture of most beans (lentils excepted) turn her tummy. I think that will change some day too.

  • Beth Brubaker

    Join the club- we have really wicked (witch) T-shirts!
    Hey, there's an idea…maybe we should make T-shirts that say something about us witches making our kids eat good food- whatcha think?

    My son has Aspergers, so he's picky about a LOT of stuff- It took me over a year to get him to eat carrots, he won't eat mashed potatoes unless there's corn (or mashed carrots), and about 6 months to get him to eat spinach- and ONLY in soups! But give that kids a truckload of my homemade chicken fingers or chicken corn fritters, and he'll eat until he explodes. Sigh…

    And I can NOT get him to eat fruit at all except bananas!

  • Peggy

    We had the same basic rules that Margo uses when our kids were young until child #3 came along. Well to be fair we had the same rules but made a few exceptions… no mushrooms. He just can not handle the texture. Now that the boys are older some things I've just given up on especially when my husband politely informed me that he really doesn't like some of the things either.

    And about the soup… it has got to be one of my favorite soups! Do I make them eat it? Nope! It is one of those things that I've halved the recipe but the last time I made at least one of them decided he liked it. Between him and my husband they had the nerve to leave me a single spoonful in the fridge. LOL characters!!

  • Margo

    looks great! I adore orzo – I have a great cheater risotto recipe, so I keep orzo on hand.

    Our food policy is very simple: we cook, we don't make bargains (2 bites of this and then you can. . .), and everyone has to eat some of what is served (desserts excepted). If the kids don't want to eat because they don't like the food, we don't argue but there are no snacks later to make up for it. Usually, hungry kids eat 🙂 AND, my kids change their minds ALL the time about what they like and don't like, so we ignore that pretty much too. This has been working for us so far, but my kids are younger than yours. . .

    • Beth Brubaker

      We do the same thing, unless they do that gaggy thing. Then I just have them eat everything else on the plate that is non-gaggy that night. Doesn't mean I don't serve it again- that was how I got my son to start eating vegetables! Most times I do wind up grinding them up in soups or pilafs- I found out my son had more of an issue with the texture than the taste!

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