There was great excitement in Week 4 of cooking club, when our young chefs learned they would be making not ONE, not TWO, but THREE separate recipes. And one of them was SOUP.

“I love soup,” Leah Cuatlatl Morales announced before we’d even started. “My mom makes soup all the time.”

Soup is a wonderful meal for students to learn to make because it is so flexible. It can be clear or creamy, have meat or no meat, use fresh ingredients or use up leftovers from the refrigerator. Our chefs were delighted to see that our soup was going to have chicken as well as vegetables. “There’s chicken?” Yandel Vazquez asked. “I like chicken.”

While soup is an easy meal to make, there is a lot of prep involved, so we quickly divided up the tasks. Dariel Cordero volunteered to chop the onion, though he later confessed “my eyes are watering!” Yandel started dicing the green pepper, while Madeline Rookwood learned the technique for smashing garlic cloves to get the peels off. Magavi Cortes, meanwhile, was VERY CAREFULLY putting the chicken thighs into the stock pot to brown in the popping olive oil without getting splattered. She, Madeline and Leah would later take charge of mixing in the diced tomatoes, black beans, chicken stock and spices and keeping the pot well stirred until it simmered.

Across the kitchen, meanwhile, Yandel and Leah were tackling a BONUS recipe brought in by Ms. Linda from last spring to use up some of the cornmeal that had built up in our pantry. Adding eggs, milk, flour and sugar — and a little wrist action — they quickly turned the cornmeal into a beautiful, yellow and creamy batter and got it into the oven.

While the soup and cornmeal were cooking, Madeline, Magavi and Dariel led the way on our third recipe, guacamole and pita strips. Dariel again used his knife skills to expertly split the avocados while Magavi and Madeline teamed up with some girl power to use our bright yellow lemon squeezer to get the two tablespoons of juice we needed. Across the table, Yandel diced the tomato to give the guacamole taste and color. When it came time to eat, our chefs couldn’t wait to see how all this activity would come together into a single meal.

For safety, Mr. Peter brought the piping hot pot of soup to the table, where everyone could serve themselves. And how did they like it? The boys liked the chicken a lot and the vegetables not so much. But the girls were united in their approval. “This soup is just so good,” Madeline exclaimed. “It’s one of the best things we have made.”