Do your kids love those packaged chicken pot pies that come in a box? Now you can have it in soup form!
This recipe is one your entire family will surely enjoy!
Quick dinner recipes are always a favorite in my house. Sometimes as a mom, the pressure is on to continually deliver dinner and lunches that satisfy all members of the family! And it can be hard! Fortunately, MOMables is here to relieve some of that pressure and help you put together lunches and dinners your family will love!
I love to be able to put together a dinner in less than half an hour and be done (well, except for all the dishes)! This Chicken Pot Pie Soup is exactly that.
The ingredients are simple—things we usually have in our pantry, and everything comes together so quickly. My husband absolutely loved this dish—he is a chicken pot pie lover, so this soup was a huge hit with him! My daughter prefers the soup without “spiciness,” so I have to lower the amount of seasonings to her taste, but when I did that, she absolutely loved it too! This recipe was a big win in our family, and I’m sure it will be in yours, too!
This soup would be perfect in a thermos the next day for lunch!
When I embarked on writing my book, a childhood nutrition and feeding resource, I knew I wanted to show parents an easy way to feed their kids at mealtime, one that melted away the tension and improved overall eating and enjoyment. Here, I tell my story.
When my oldest daughter was 9 (and my other three children were 7, 6, and 4), I gave up “plating” their meals. I decided they needed to learn how to feed themselves and that they were better than I was at knowing how hungry they were and what they liked to eat.
I placed our mealtime food items in bowls and platters and set them in the center of the table. We gave thanks, and I said to my oldest, who was 9 at the time, “Why don’t you start with the chicken, take what you want, and pass it around the table.”
Everyone looked at me, including my husband.
“That’s right,” I said, “I have been doing this meal thing all wrong. You know what you like to eat, and how much food is right for your appetite, so you can pick and choose from the meal as we pass things around. The only rule is that this is the meal. No other alternatives. If you need help, let me know.”
Still, they stared.
Then, my 7-year-old said with disbelief, “You mean, this is a smorgasbord?! We can take whatever we want? We can have as much as we want?”
“Yes,” I said, “I would just ask that you remember your manners and that there are six of us at the table. If you choose not to have something, politely pass it on. If there’s something you really like, take some now, and there will be enough here for later.”
I proceeded to hold platters and bowls for my 4-year-old, standing behind him, and letting him scoop up the food he wanted.
That was 8 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.
I changed my feeding course because my husband and I were starting to harp on the kids, who were wasting food (a trigger for both of us who grew up with “just enough”), and he was starting to eat up what was left on the plates—not good!
As a childhood nutrition expert, I had a vision for my kids’ nutrition future. After all, getting kids to eat today often fails to acknowledge tomorrow’s end goal: a grown-up who is internally motivated to eat a variety of nutritious foods, in the unique balance for his health.
So how do I do it?
I select and prepare a tasty meal that includes as many food groups as possible (lean protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and dairy or nondairy substitute), and give consideration to my family’s preferences, including at least one or two food items I know will be acceptable. Don’t get me wrong; I’m the one in charge of the menu.
I allow my children to choose which foods they will eat, and how much. There’s no pressure from me to eat more of this or less of that. The kids are in control. Yes, some kids may go crazy at first—even I had one or two who ate a fair amount of bread—but once kids trust that they are free to choose from the presented meal, they settle down and eat to satisfy their appetite. I have found this takes about two to three weeks of consistent family-style meals.
I know changing how I served meals made the biggest difference in my kids’ eating and the vibe at our meal table. Everyone eats. It’s peaceful and enjoyable, mostly. Sometimes, someone complains, and I say, “I’m sorry you don’t like this. You don’t have to eat. But you do need to sit with us.” More often than not, something from the meal gets eaten.
Family-style feeding matches key tenants in child development and feeding research. For example, when children are allowed to make choices, they learn self-control, independence, and responsibility, which is the basis for self-esteem development.
Kids also learn about taste and their own food preferences, especially when they are exposed to new foods without pressure. Ironically, a no-pressure environment can lead to greater exploration of food and overall better eating, according to Lucy Cooke, a British researcher in kid’s food preferences.
Her research shows that exposure is the name of the game, because it familiarizes children with all sorts of food, a critical component to eating. Too much pressure is counterproductive, according to a 2006 study in Appetite, because kids may develop a dislike for foods they feel pressured to eat, especially vegetables. Even though it took years, my kids now eat lasagna instead of the fruit and bread it’s served with. In fact, they eat almost everything!
Learning to eat is just that—a process—not dissimilar to learning to read or drive a car. If parents make the decisions about food choices and amounts, when are the kids learning to eat? And how will they deal with the newfound freedom that comes when the parents aren’t there to police them? I think you know the answer to that.
I tell my daughter that we are having spaghetti for dinner, and she makes a face. However, if I tell her we are having spaghetti cupcakes, she is all excited for dinner and can’t wait! Maybe there’s something about having spaghetti just plain on a plate or in a bowl.
Everything seems to mush together, which my daughter doesn’t always like. Put the exact same ingredients in a reusable silicone cup, call them cupcakes, and all of a sudden dinner looks a whole lot better!
Not only do spaghetti cupcakes make dinner fun, you can also allow your kids to choose their own toppings. By having separate bowls filled with favorite spaghetti toppings, your kids can easily “decorate” their own cupcakes.
For example, you could have separate bowls of pasta, marinara sauce, meatballs, vegetables, and parmesan cheese. If any of your kids do not like spaghetti, you can offer two types of pasta. I had spaghetti and corkscrew pasta in our cupcakes.
These cupcakes can also help your kids get more involved in the meal planning. My daughter chose which vegetables from the freezer she wanted to add to the spaghetti cupcakes. Having her involved only made her more interested in actually eating the meal afterward, which always makes me a happy mom.
I used these silicone cups because for one, they are reusable. I use silicone cups all the time, whether to bake muffins, or for yogurt parfaits, or in lunches. I enjoy using silicone cups in lunches to keep food separate and for the added pop of color. You could use any reusable silicone cup, not just the flower ones used above. If you do not have any reusable silicone cups, mini bowls or foil cupcake liners could be used instead.
Love stuffing but need a gluten-free option? How about a dairy- and egg-free option too? We’ve got you covered.
When you pack lunches daily, you can accumulate a lot of bread crusts and scraps from sandwiches. I save mine in a storage bag in the freezer so I can make homemade gluten-free croutons, bread crumbs, and stuffing. Here is another great way to repurpose those bread pieces and make something that’s both allergy-friendly and delicious!
I made this recipe with no added eggs or dairy, but I have listed either way so you can make it to fit the needs of your family. By using a type of bread that accomodates your allergies, you can keep it completely egg-free or dairy-free. The bread my family uses is gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and nut-free. Serve it up for the holidays with a giant turkey or for family dinners with marinated pork. The apples give it a sweet bite that will mix deliciously with your meal.