Split Pea Soup. Appealing to you?
Does mentioning this pale-green, creamy, luke-warm liquid make anyone feel excited? Accomplished? How about proud?
Until recently, me neither. None of those emotions came to mind.
Gigi’s University is one of many programs at Gigi’s Playhouse, an educational and awareness center for individuals with Down syndrome. The focus of the group is to teach and improve on interpersonal, monetary, nutritional, and other life skills to the young adults in the program. I recently had the opportunity to volunteer one day a week during the first 12 week session that kicked off the program.
The topic of this post, usually never thought of as favorable, began from a simple question that I asked the group one day while we were eating lunches that each of us had packed for the day. As I looked around at the lunches everyone packed, I saw bread, fruit, and pudding cups among many other food items. Nothing green, however.
“What vegetables are everyone’s favorites?” I asked to the group.
A choreographed dance move couldn’t have been timed as perfectly as their collective initial reactions. Everyone’s eyes darted from the food they were enjoying to my seat at the table. I’d never seen so many noses crinkle up in disgust at the same time. “Ewwww…”, many of them exclaimed from their seats, “We don’t like vegetables!”
After hearing their responses, the coordinators discussed having a day that we all participated in cooking healthy meals together. Because of some easy to follow recipe cards that we had at the Playhouse, one of the featured items on this healthy menu that we created was split pea soup.
In my head, my nose crinkled up just as I’d seen the individuals do the week before. ‘Eww…I don’t like split pea soup’, I thought. I couldn’t actually recall if I’d ever even had split pea soup…probably not. But I knew I probably didn’t enjoy it.
A few days later, I was overseeing a group of four individuals in following the recipe card to make a ‘gourmet’ split pea soup.
As I’d imagined, none of my group seemed overly thrilled about making our assigned item. Enthusiastically, I convinced them that it was going to be fun. It was going to be a challenge. We agreed to make it an adventure. Together, we gathered all of the necessary ingredients and kitchen items that were listed on our easy to follow recipe card.
Everyone was delegated a task in order to complete our soup. Shallots and parsley got chopped and sautéed in olive oil. Salt and pepper were added in appropriate amounts. Water and vegetable stock were poured into the translucent shallots. The correct amount, as followed by the recipe, of frozen peas got stirred into the mixture. After 15 minutes of simmering, the soup that just looked like boiling peas, got blended in the Ninja blender. A steaming, thick, and brightly colored liquid got poured back into the original pot. Next, the group stirred in some heavy whipping cream to add to the texture. One individual then ladled proportional servings for each person that was present. Lastly, a spring of fresh mint got added to each bowl. Truly, gourmet style.
No longer did I see crinkled noses. No one had expressions of disgust on their faces. Everyone had a unique, important role in creating our team’s food item for the meal. They knew that teamwork was important in this endeavor and they couldn’t have worked better together. Because of what this soup represented- teamwork, accomplishment, openness to new experiences- they were eager to sample split pea soup. They approved of the finished result. I did, as well.
They felt excited. Accomplished. Proud.
I felt excited. Accomplished. Proud.
Split Pea Soup…who would have thought??