Tag Archives: vegetables

National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month! It’s gotten colder here, so soup is the perfect go to meal for us. I love soup so much I wrote a book about it.

The recipe is at the end of the story.

It is featured on Library Sparks’ activity calendar for January which you can download for free here. (Did you know it’s also Happy Get Organized Month and Happy Brainteaser Month? I bet you didn’t!)

Soup Day was inspired by my son, Jamie. I created Snowy Day Soup (the recipe of which is at the end of the story) to get him to eat his veggies when he was a toddler. We’d choose the vegetables together at the market, and I’d let him cut the soft ones like the mushrooms, with a plastic knife (with my help).

Here is an old video of us making it together!

Back in 2010!

Back in 2010!

And here is a video of it being read on Story Time Castle. 🙂

Another favorite soup of his is Zucchini Soup, and we have it regularly. It is so easy to make, even he can do it by himself! I illustrated a version of it which I submitted to They Draw and Cook. Here’s the art and the recipe:

Zucchini Soup Melissa Iwai 2016 72

Zucchini Soup

1 lb. zucchini sliced

1 cup chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice zucchini into rounds. Steam. You can either steam on the stove or in the microwave, covered with saran for 8 minutes.
  2. Careful transfer the cooked zucchini and juices into a blender. Add chicken broth and seasonings. Pulse several times on low, and then blend at high until completely smooth.
  3. Heat and serve.

Happy Slurping! 🙂



Filed under Books, Children, Soup, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Green as a Bean: Another Class Visit and Miso Green Beans

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I thought today it would be appropriate to share some green artwork and some green food. 🙂

Earlier this month, I did my third visit to the Kindergarten classes at PS 142 and read one of my favorite book that I have illustrated, called Green As A Bean.  It is based on a wonderful poem, written in the 60s by the late Karla Kuskin.  The poem was recast as a picture books and was published several years ago.  Written in lyrical rhyme, the verse asks the reader to imagine what they might be like if they were green, soft, loud, fierce, bright…

I painted this soon after my son was born, so I had to include him -- he's the hanging baby bean.

If you were fierce...

I loved painting the illustrations because the story is so open-ended.  It was such a pleasure to create the “world” of this book.

I read it to the children in class and spoke to them about “words that describe things” (i.e. adjectives).  Then we narrowed it down to colors, since they have been studying color charts during their regular class time.  I had them imagine if they were a particular color, what would they be?

It was a nice way to ease the kids into writing down their thoughts and illustrating them.  Here are some of their creations.

blue flowers

a purple princess

a green dragon

Getting back to the color green…
It is sometimes difficult getting my son to eat enough green food.  Today I made him some special green vanilla yogurt (with the help of food coloring, not scary spores!) and he gobbled it up.  But I’m talking about real green food, namely green veggies.

One of the very few green vegetables he’s been eating since he started eating solids, though, are green beans.  I think it’s because early on I developed a recipe he loved:  Miso Green Beans.  I use Trader Joe’s French green beans — they are so good and reasonably priced. (I just hope they don’t discontinue them, as they have a tendency to do with food I love!)I make a thin paste with miso and some water and season with a bit of sugar.

"shiro" (white) more mild than "aka" (red) -- the darker the miso paste, the stronger the flavor

Then I drizzle this over cooked green beans and saute them until they are slightly browned and a bit caramelized.

They have a nice sweet and savory flavor.  You can garnish with some toasted sesame seeds for added crunch.  It also brings out the nutty sesame flavor of the sesame oil the beans are sauteed in.

Miso paste can be found in Asian food stores and health food stores.  I also love to use it in salad dressing.

Miso Green Beans

3 cups of fresh or frozen French beans

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 ½  teaspoon miso paste

½ teaspoon sugar

  1. Steam green beans until crisp tender in steamer or microwave. Drain.
  2. Saute beans in oil until softened a little.
  3. Mix miso paste, sugar and about 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl.  Add to beans and saute vigorously until beans are slightly carmelized.
  4. Serve immediately.


Filed under Art Related, Children, Sides, Vegetables

Snowy Day Vegetable Soup

Winter.  Frigid mornings.  Snow piled up.  Dry skin.  It takes about ten minutes minimum for the three of us to get bundled up, don our jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, and finally step outside.  We are still in the thick of it too — the Weather Channel says it feels like 17 degrees outside right now.

My son was home all last week with a nasty ear infection.  To comfort him and get some nourishing goodness into his system, I made Snowy Day Vegetable Soup from my book, Soup Day.

This is the last page of the book -- the recipe.

It’s the perfect remedy for a cold, icky day, and my son loves it.  I added a bit of cooked chicken at the end from some added protein.  He’s all better this week, thankfully!

There are several bloggers out there who’ve made it with their kids.  It’s very simple and a good way to get some vegetables in your family’s diet.

Sales of  Soup Day are going pretty well.  It sold out of its first printing about a month and and a half after its release.  I am about halfway to meeting the required sales amount to get my sequel!  Please help me out and buy a copy for the budding little chef/chefs in your life!    (If you’ve already done that, tell your friends! 🙂  )

Yesterday,  I braved the cold and visited the same two Kindergarten classes at P.S. 142 I mentioned in a previous post, and read it to them.  Afterward, we did a soup bowl collage craft together.  They loved coloring, cutting and gluing their paper pieces of vegetables and dried pasta to their bowls.

Hard at work coloring vegetables...

Making soup...

One of the finished soup collages!

If you’d like to do this craft with your child, feel free to download the activity sheet off my website.  There is also a related Hidden Pictures puzzle there as well.

Enjoy! 🙂

Snowy Day Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup diced onion

½ cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

kosher salt to taste

6 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock

2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

½ cup carrots, sliced into rounds

2 cups zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 cup sliced mushrooms

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 oz. dried pasta of choice

¼ cup packed chopped parsley leaves

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat.  When oil is hot, add diced onions, carrots, celery and pinch of salt to pot.  Saute until onions are soft and translucent.
  2. Add stock.  Increase to high and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add potatoes, carrot rounds, zucchini and mushrooms to pot.  Add pepper, thyme, and salt to taste.  Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 15- 20 minutes.
  3. Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan.  Add a pinch of salt to water.  When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to an al dente doneness according to package instructions.  Drain and add to vegetable soup just before serving.
  4. Season to taste with salt and paper and garnish soup with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Note:  Please take care to keep children at a distance from burners on the stove.


Filed under Art Related, chicken, Children, Soup, Vegetables