I developed this recipe when my girls were small. They loved tomato soup, but I was on a quest not to give them so many canned and processed foods. The recipe changed a few times until we discovered it could be made in the microwave by the kids - safely - and it tasted so much richer and more flavorful than canned soup. Add a toasty grilled cheese sandwich, and you've got lunch!
The kids made up the toppings themselves.
1You will need a large MICROWAVE-SAFE bowl and a wooden spoon. The larger the bowl, the better to prevent boil-overs. An immersion blender is optional; if you want smooth soup it's handy to use. We actually eat our soup chunky.
2Depending on their ages, you may want to help your children with slicing the vegetables. Or you can buy pre-sliced onion and celery in the produce section. The finer the slicing, the more they "disappear" in the soup.
3Place the onions, celery, and butter or oil in the large bowl. Cover loosely with waxed paper or a microwave cooking cover. Avoid using plastic wrap as it may cause steam burns. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Stir well, then microwave another minute or two until the vegetables are soft.
4Heat the chicken broth and stir it in. I recommend heating it first because the onions, celery and butter are VERY hot and you don't want to crack your bowl. Cover and cook 1 minute on high. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato sauce; cover and cook 4 - 5 minutes on high, stirring once or twice. Add the thyme or parsley and sugar, and continue to cook about 2 more minutes, until fragrant.
5At this point, teach your children how to taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Be careful with the salt. Some broth and tomato products are pretty salty! You can control this by using lower sodium or no-salt-added products. I suggest adding salt 1/4 teaspoon at a time; and use several twists of the pepper mill.
6If you want the soup less chunky, use the immersion blender to get the consistency you want. This may be better done by Mom or Dad if your children are fairly young. Use your own judgment. Reheat the soup to serving temperature.
7Ladle the soup into bowls. Let the kids put on their own toppings. My girls liked to stir in 2 tablespoons of their favorite salsa and sprinkle grated cheese on top. When they got older, they added sour cream. Stirring in the sour cream makes the soup thicker.