Serve More Vegetables to Students with These Tasty Soup Recipes

How can you convince even the pickiest eater in the school cafeteria to stop in the serving line and fill up their plate? Or consider an even taller task – persuading students to opt for vegetables. The answer seems simple enough: create enticing recipes that appeal to the students’ tastes. Fall is here. Soup is hot. Warm and hold soup at food-safe temperatures without overheating with the CookTek SinAqua Souper, and learn how school kitchen staff can serve an appealing soup-filled menu with healthy ingredients.

Balancing School Nutrition Standards and Student Participation

School nutrition standards have become more strict over the last decade. The National School Lunch Program requires school entrées to include whole grains and lean proteins. Additionally, school meals are to feature one cup of 1% or fat-free milk and one-half cup of fruit servings. Vegetables, often the last item standing on our kids’ plates, must be a part of every school lunch as well (3/4 cup). For school nutrition programs, it’s a delicate balance of enforcing stricter food standards and maintaining a high lunch participation rate. Students want to be excited about the food options, and while introducing new items can be hit or miss, new spins on old classics can really drive up school lunch participation. Soups are one type of menu item that can deliver healthy servings of vegetables, and when done properly, gets the lunch tables talking.

Soup Recipes to Serve in Schools 

Serving soup as part of a school lunch menu brings a few different benefits to school nutrition professionals. First, soups can be prepared in bulk, saving time for staff by reducing the frequency of creating soups from scratch. Second, with a soup warmer designed to maintain proper holding temperatures without compromising quality, operators ensure that students at the start and end of the serving line will be served hot, fresh, delicious soup or stew. The traditional soups we loved as kids still hold their own in today’s school lunch world. While the classics have their place, there are other soup recipes that give kitchen staff the chance to try something new. Instead of cheeseburger day, opt for a cheeseburger stew! A filling meal on its own, this serves up a sufficient dose of shredded carrots and celery, with the cheesy and savory goodness kids expect from a burger.

  • Tomato soup doesn’t need to come from a can. Fresh tomatoes, onion, and carrot can create a non-traditional, hearty soup to pair with grilled cheese on a wintery day.
  • Chicken noodle soup is another staple that shouldn’t be looked over. Chocked full of hearty veggies like carrot and celery, it’s a perfect delivery of vegetable servings in a comfort food kids know and love.
  • Pivot from a beef chili and switch to a veggie chili, which packs plenty of vegetables and protein to exceed the daily serving requirements from school lunches. With enough tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, corn, and beans, kids will love the taste without thinking twice that it’s vegetarian!

Soup Warmers for Schools 

SinAqua Drop In Wells RoundNow that you have some delicious recipe ideas to bring to your students, what school kitchen equipment helps keep these soups and stews warm, fresh, and cost-saving? If a school foodservice program features soups and stews on its menu and doesn’t utilize soup warmers, it’s time to consider CookTek SinAqua. SinAqua wells use 63% less energy than traditional electric soup wells. Compared to a steam table that continues to cook food, not holding it at an ideal temperature, SinAqua soup wells maintain accurate and consistent holding temperatures, avoiding hot food “fatigue.” Because SinAqua requires no water lines or drains, it gives operators more flexibility to drop in and start holding.SinAqua SouperTo go one step further, operators can take soup to any part of the serving line with a SinAqua Souper. This free-standing soup warmer with an easy-to-use touchscreen gives operators of any skill level or space limitation the opportunity to serve healthy soups in more ways and places. Without the need for water, SinAqua soup warmers help districts save on utilities and don’t require schools to keep it near a water source. And it doesn’t take straight A’s in Math to understand that means SinAqua offers an impressive ROI.

Soup is just for starters. Is your other school kitchen equipment receiving high marks? See what school nutrition directors should consider in a convection oven.

3 Tips Ahead

Topics: K-12 Schools