Want your kids to try a new food? Sometimes you have to take baby steps, even if your kids aren’t babies anymore. For instance, I have a son who always had a strong dislike for vegetables. From the time he was a baby until he was a teenager, his strategy would be to get the offending food down as fast as possible so he wouldn’t have to taste it. If he could swallow it whole, he would do so — all to avoid taking a bite.

When he was a teenager, I noticed that by some miracle he liked roasted Brussels sprouts. So I started roasting other vegetables, too. To my surprise, he liked them. Well, some of them. The cooking method was a bridge between a food I knew he liked and other foods he would never have given a chance. This insight expanded his palate by leaps and bounds.

Creamy gazpacho is another good example of a possible bridge on the way to becoming a good eater. My youngest son loved creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when he was younger. So I thought I would try gazpacho, a Spanish soup made of puréed raw vegetables, usually tomato-based, and served cold, and see if he might give that a shot, too.

My first attempts turned out to be too big a culinary leap for my little guy, probably because I was simply puréeing tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and garlic together with a little vinegar and olive oil. The result, which I thought was delicious, was too aggressive a flavor for my son.

So the next time, I made a version that included a little bread, which created a creamy texture and less assertive flavor. Success!

With the temperatures climbing, you may want to make this light and refreshing soup for your family, too. Another big bonus is that you can make it without ever turning on the stove or oven.

That is, unless the kids are a little hesitant to give it a try, in which case you may need to build them a bridge made out of grilled cheese sandwiches.

Creamy Gazpacho

Serves 6.

Note: Refreshing and light, this soup is the perfect antidote to a hot, steamy summer day. From Meredith Deeds.

 1 slice (3 oz.) country-style bread, about 1 in. thick, crusts removed

 2 lb. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

• 1/2 c. water

 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

• 1/4 c. chopped red onion

 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

 1/3 c. plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

• 3/4 tsp. salt, divided

 2 c. (1/2-inch) cubes whole-grain bread

Directions

Place bread in a blender. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze the juice out over the bread. Pour 1/2 cup water over the bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the blender. Purée until very smooth.

Push purée through a coarse sieve.

Chill gazpacho in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If the gazpacho is too thick, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

While the gazpacho is chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss cubed bread with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in 1 layer and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool croutons in pan on a rack.

Serve chilled soup in individual glasses or in soup bowls and garnish with croutons.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 220 Fat 15 g Sodium 420 mg

Carbohydrates 18 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 6 g

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 starch, 3 fat.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at

@meredithdeeds.