ELKIN — Students at the Yadkin Valley Community School prepared a special soup last week with a recipe based upon a folktale. The school’s owner Kimberly Seipel-Parks explained that the annual Great American Soup Off competition was the original inspiration for the project. Being involved in the local community and giving back are two important facets of the educational program at the school. Though the soup off was cancelled, the project went ahead as planned and the children donated their soup for residents and staff at The Ark to enjoy.
“We try to teach them about being a part of the community and service to the community so this is a great way to tie that in,” Seipel-Parks said.
The book “Stone Soup” by Jon J. Muth served as the inspiration for the recipe the children followed to prepare their soup. The story involves three monks who pass through a small village. Hungry, the monks begin to prepare a soup though they have no ingredients with which to make it. Curious as to what the monks are doing, one by one villagers stop by the monk’s pot and share items from their home which in the end makes a wonderful soup that all of the village shares.
“I like the story because I like the idea that everyone brings a different ingredient and they make something better than what they could have individually,” Seipel-Parks said.
There are various versions of the folktale, but the recipe the students used is based upon a Chinese version of the tale which made for an interesting and unique list of ingredients.
“As we read the story I had the students take notes every time they heard an ingredient mentioned and those are the ones we tried to include, the bamboo shoots, the tofu, the mung beans. We tried to follow what they used in the story as much as we could,” said Seipel-Parks.
She said at first she thought mung beans would be hard to come by in the area, but soon learned that they were available at the Yadkin Valley General Store.
Each of the students brought in an ingredient for the soup and they each took turns helping to chop carrots, mushrooms and onions as well as garlic and ginger and other items that went in the soup pot.
Once their stone soup was complete, the children also had a chance to sample their creation.
Each Friday the students have New Food Friday where they try different foods that may relate to a geographic region they are studying or certain plants mentioned in the curriculum.
Aside from contributing to a community cause, the students learned many other lessons by making their soup in the areas of language, math, healthy eating and fine motor skills.
In the area of math, Seipel-Parks said, “We wrote our own recipe, but we doubled that recipe for the batch that we made at school. This also involved fraction work.”
The soup was healthy and full of vegetables, tofu and even a cabbage that came from the school garden, Seipel-Parks said.
Fine motor skills came into play as well as cooking lessons as the students helped to prepare the soup.
“Some of our students had experience using kitchen tools and some did not,” Seipel-Parks said. “We used this as an opportunity to help them learn to make cubes of the same size, sort ingredients and hold tools in the proper way so that they wouldn’t get hurt.”
The end result was a new treat for the students and others who enjoyed the meal.
“Most of the kids really liked the soup, several eating seconds,” said Seipel-Parks.
“Delicious, delicious, 1,000 times delicious!” was the review from first-grader Ellie Wooten.
Kindergartner Adalyne Phillips said, “I love it, except the tofu!”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter or Instagram @RippleReporterK.