I've never met a kid who won't eat pumpkin soup. Big call, I know, but I have met some seriously dedicated non-veggie eating children who will wolf down a bowl of this.
I worked for a while as a cook for a big pre-school in Brisbane. I was a solo cook, and I fed 100 children each day. (Actually not each day, I had Wednesdays off.)
It was a hoot. It was a hot little kitchen (they all are) and the equipment wasn't fantastic but the director gave me free rein to recreate the entire menu (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea) and encouraged a really healthy menu.
I loved it.
On my first day, the day after my interview, I arrived in the kitchen only to find there were no recipes, no procedures, no "cook this much pasta for this many children".
There were sporadic ingredients (the last cook had been fired on the spot the week before – that's another story) and the director had been doing the cooking as far as possible. They'd had a few days of sandwiches I think. But there were lots of pumpkins in the veggie bin. And potatoes. And I found some stock cubes. They'll do. And onions.
So for lunch on my first day the kids had pumpkin soup. Proportions wildly guessed at and luckily sufficient. I peeped into the rooms to see the kids mopping it up from their bowls with bread and butter.
Honestly: I have never used a recipe for pumpkin soup. I suspect if you bake the pumpkin you probably get a richer soup, but I never have.
Anyway, here's how I make it. It's quick, and failsafe.
(For a family of 4.)
Cook a chopped brown onion and a couple of minced cloves of garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy based saucepan.
Add about 4 small to medium sized potatos, peeled and chopped.
Add a bit more (than spuds) of peeled, chopped Jap pumpkin and the same amount of peeled, chopped butternut pumpkin. Of course if you only have one type of pumpkin that's fine, it's yummy, just keep proportions to about 3:1 pumpkin to potato.
Cover veggies entirely with stock – chicken stock works well. Vegetable too. Make sure there is about 2cm stock over top of veg.
Cook for about 30 mins.
Blend with a hand blender.
Cool before serving to smallies!!
(Add salt and pepper for the adults or the room group leaders at the preschool who I still miss, they were terrific gals, and who were relieved to see the end of sandwiches!)
From my time at the preschool, the kids favourite hot lunches were (other than pumpkin soup):
:: Chinese fried rice
:: Chicken and vegetable risotto
:: Pumpkin, spinach and ricotta bake
:: Oodles of Noodles with ham and cheese
:: Pasta Roma (a simple tomato/egg/cheese pasta bake. I'll blog it sometime.)
:: Tuna mornay with brown rice
:: Zucchini slice
:: Meatballs with mashed potato
:: Vegetable pizza slices