A spoonful of sugar (or croutons) helps the vegies go down

A big fat yummy bowl of witches' stew

Last week I served up an aesthetically challenged split pea soup that could best be visually compared to a bowl of snot. Full of vegetables and lacking in glamour, there was little chance of the little lovelies voluntarily hoeing in. Which is a shame, since it was absolutely delicious.

In these situations it’s important to remember the Vegie-Smuggling philosophy of sugar coating meals – that is, finding lures that will be irresistible to your kids that will ensure certain success with a risky dinner. For me, these include dollops of tomato sauce, mayonnaise and with soups, croutons.

There’s something FUN about discovering a crunchy delight in a thick soup and it works on my kids without fail.

I dump a load of them into a bowl and ladle the soup over. The first crouton goes in, coated in soup and the kids realise that the flavour is good and then they go back for more. I PROMISE you, that both the kids ate up full bowls of this soup and said they’d happily eat it again. We even had a laugh about the ugly look of it. Once the croutons were submerged, Miss Fruitarian renamed it ‘Witches stew’, which I think is a title just as enticing to kids as the oily, garlic bread.

This is an advanced Vegie Smuggling dish – if your kids aren’t used to soup, try my Chicken & pasta recipe instead, but if your kids are used to a nice thick hearty texture (and like peas), try this out. It’s not my recipe (it’s from Gateway Gourmet), I’ve only added the croutons and made minimal changes, which is why it’s not in the cookbook, only online.

Witches stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
1 parsnip, peeled, diced
1 ¼ cups green split peas, rinsed, picked over
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Half a bunch fresh thyme leaves (remove stalks)
Salt & pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegies and cook, stirring often for 8-10 minutes to soften. Add the split peas, stock, herbs and some seasoning.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1-1¼ hours. Remove the bay leaf. Use a stick blender to process until smooth. Add 1/4-1/2 cup extra water if the texture is too thick. Season further to taste.

Serve over croutons.

vegie smugglers croutons

Not healthy, but will make the rest of it magically disappear


Preheat oven to 200C. Line oven tray with baking paper.

Slice 1 small breadstick into cubes. Scatter on tray.

Combine 2-3 tbsp olive oil with 2 cloves garlic and 1 tsp Italian herbs. Mix well. Pour over bread and toss to coat.

Bake 10-15 minutes until as golden as you like.

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13 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natalie said,

    IT SURE WORKED!! Thanks for this idea 🙂 kids and hubby scrunched up their noses at the idea of sweet potato soup until they saw the mountain of parmesan/garlic croutons in their bowls!

  2. 2

    Laura said,

    I talked on and on about croutons all day in preparation. Girls were so excited by the end of the day they didn’t complain when the croutons were smothered in green soup.
    Much more of a testament though is the fact that their carnivore father ate it! Honestly – he is worse than the kids.

  3. 4

    You obviously don’t have boys – telling them I’m serving a “bowl of snot” for dinner would probably get them in! lol

  4. 6

    Jo said,

    This is a lovely tasting soup, I found myself not wanting to share it with the kids! How do u think it would go with pearl barley instead of split peas & left unblended?

  5. 9

    Jo said,

    So I did try the soup with pearl barley instead of split peas. Several times now. I also used it when I catered for my kids and another family’s on a holiday. It was a hit with all kids and all parents! I did change it a little though, I used 1/2 cup pearl barley, which made the soup very thick as the barley ‘drinks up’ heaps of the fluid, so I also added some extra stock. I then added some shredded poached-in-vegie-stock chicken and served it over rice. SCRUMMY. Obviously the vegies are no longer ‘hidden’, but none of the kids minded, in fact I doubled the vegie content. It’s now a staple on our menu, it freezes and reheats very well, and each time I serve it my 4yo tells me he’d like to have it every day… 😀

  6. 11

    Hailey said,

    I made this yesterday and kids and husband loved it! First time husband has ever eaten soup for dinner and not gone back to the kitchen to ‘fill up’ afterwards. Delicious!!

  7. 13

    […] Witches Stew with Croutons from Vegie Smugglers. […]

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