My French Food Flop (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 6) February 12 2013, 5 Comments

healthy leek soup recipe

Resiliency is the parenting manifesto du jour. But as a busy parent, being resilient (especially in the kitchen) is something I find hard to do.

All I wanted was to make the perfect leek soup. I wanted to get it done, have my kids rave about it, and move onto the next thing. In my racing mind I was thinking, “I’m busy, I’m tired, and I just need to get this recipe done for the week.” The last thing I wanted was to fail.

Resiliency. Like “happiness” was last year, “resiliency” seems to be the new parenting manifesto. During a lively discussion about Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed, a friend suggested that maybe what our kids need is “resiliency camp.” A funny mental image, to be sure, but that may be missing the point. What experts are encouraging us to do as parents is to let our kids fail, in the service of building grit and character, and to set a good example by modeling this behavior ourselves -- welcoming failure and using it as a springboard to learn and grow.

I don’t know about you, but as a busy parent I have very little resiliency. In the rare moments when I do have it, I need to work hard to get it. This weekend, I had no resiliency. Absolutely none.

Like a well-mapped domino run, it was a series of missteps and errors on my part that led to my French food flop. After a year of getting my kids to try new foods, I should have known by now what works and what doesn’t work. Instead, I unwittingly proceeded down the path to failure with the force of a dragon.

Mistake #1: Not letting my kids choose.

When we started 52 New Foods, I made a pact with my kids: “You choose, we make it together.” The key to our success was putting my kids in charge of the adventure. Heading to the market on our typical weekend outing, my daughter wanted to make lemon tarts. “Deliciously French!” I thought. But I was unable to find a single recipe that wasn’t loaded with sugar and egg yolks. So I decided to make leek soup. How did I go from lemons to leeks? Worse, I didn’t ask. I just decided.

Mistake #2: Forcing the issue.

My first attempt at leek soup was a complete flop. “French Glue” would have been a better description of my concoction. But blinded by my busy-ness, I went ahead and served it to my family. “It doesn’t look good.” my daughter complained. “Just try it!” I coaxed. “James, you try everything I make. Come on, just give it a taster!” He sniffed, he sipped, and then he shouted, “Blech!” That was not what I wanted to hear. “It can’t be that bad!” I retorted.

But it was.

My husband, my cheerleader and biggest supporter, slowly took a sip of soup. “I think you need to try this one again.” he encouraged. Not only was my soup the texture of Oobleck, it was overloaded with salt. In the final steps of the recipe I had forgotten to add the seasoning. So I put a dash of salt in the pot, and got distracted, forgetting to blend it all together. Ready for lunch, I served up a cup, scooping from the top of the pot. Et Voila! Simmering, salty Oobleck.

Mistake #3: Adding insult to injury.

In a huff, I grabbed my reusable grocery bags and stomped out the door. “You’re back!” greeted the clerk at our local market. “How did it turn out?” I grimaced. She backed away. I wasn’t making friends. Re-stocked with the fresh ingredients I needed to give my recipe another try, I raced home. “Did you just drive to the market?” my husband innocently enquired. Our favorite local market is two blocks from our house. “Yes, I did!” I snapped. So much for setting a good example of how we can take care of the environment by walking to the store.

In the end, I was able to make a delicious soup. A simple and soulful French Vichyssoise that would make Julia Child proud. I hope you will learn from my mistakes, and then try this healthy leek soup recipe (and enjoy it) with your kids. It will be a long time before my kids venture to try leek soup with me again, whether it’s tasty or not. I guess I’ll be dining alone at lunch this week. I hear leek soup is on the menu.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at