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Pretend Soup – A Visual Kids Cookbook That Empower Kids To Cook!


Pretend Soup – Kids Cookbook

This post contains affiliate links. Maia and I made popovers for breakfast using a recipe from her kids cookbook, Pretend Soup, a gift from our friend Leah.

The kids cookbook is subtitled A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up and has visual recipes for pre-literate kiddos in addition to normal-looking written recipes.

What a great way to empower kids in the kitchen!

Update June 2014: Maia is now almost 9 years old and still uses this cookbook quite a bit for her favorite recipes!

Kids Cookbook - Pretend Soup Interior Spread

Popovers! An Easy Kids Cookbook Recipe

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  • Author: Jean Van't Hul


(abbreviated a bit from Pretend Soup)


  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Brush the insides of your muffin tin with melted butter.
  3. Beat eggs and milk together.
  4. Add flour and salt to egg mixture and mix.
  5. Pour popover batter into muffin tin sections with a 1/4 cup measure.
  6. Bake 30 minutes.
  7. Remove popovers from muffin tin and prick each with a fork to let out the steam.
  8. Spread with butter or jam and eat.


Maia did every step herself (with me telling her what to do), including painting the muffin tins with butter and a pastry brush (lots of fun)! She even poured the batter into the tins with a 1/4 cup measure.

Kids Cookbook - Pretend Soup and Popovers

It was a little messy, but no big deal.

Kids Cookbook - Pretend Soup and Popovers

And the popovers were great!

Pretend Soup Kids Cookbook

I really like this cookbook!

And I like that the recipes are all kid tested and approved with cute kid reviews for each along the lines of, “It tastes so good, I’m gonna eat it ALL UP!” and “I wish I could eat 100 of them!”

Maia usually helps me make a mess (um, cook) from any cookbook these days, but I like the idea of a kids cookbook. The recipes are simple and tasty, and she can mostly cook them herself (with help).  And of course she enjoys eating them and having her own cookbook.

Kids Cookbooks by Mollie Katzen


Do your kids like to cook with you? Do you have a favorite kids cookbook?

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A Visual Kids Cookbook

Pretend Soup – A Visual Kids Cookbook That Empower Kids To Cook!


  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Wow! That is so cool! I definitely want to pick this up, I could use it with my EFL students too. I can’t imagine doing this with Felix though – how old is Maia? Almost 3? I am up for trying though :)

  • Avatar
    mud mama
    April 6, 2008 at 7:38 am

    We love Honest Pretzels and Pretend Soup, but the best kids cookbooks in my opinion are Fanny at Chez Panisse – part story of growing up in a restaurant part excellent cookbook, and if you can ever find it – The Mr Men Cookbook is fabulous!
    But my kids favorite cookbook is one my mother made for us a few years back. It’s full of old family favorites and stories from our childhoods and lots of family photos.
    My daughter loves anything involving whipping cream and my Wild Thing likes anything involving strawberries so we’ve made a lot of real strawberry shortcake around these parts.
    The dead simplest cookie recipe is shortening bread – made with coconut oil. We sing it in rounds while it bakes.
    At 8 my older son liked nothing better than making a whole dinner – a roast chicken rubbed with salt and garlic, stuffed with squartered lemons and fresh rosemary, potatoes and carrots in the pan. Talk about pride inhis creation!

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Ooh, I love popovers! We mostly just make bread (SouleMama’s WHO bread in our machine) and muffins (I make up big batches of Leanne Ely’s bulk muffin mix and then my daughter can choose what to add, bananas or frozen blueberries — today it was dried cherries). She’s game for helping with anything. We don’t use cookbooks a whole lot, though.

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

    We tried the popovers from Pretend Soup, but they didn’t come out as good as yours look. My 3 1/2 year old son likes me to read his cookbooks (Pretend Soup and Salad People) with him while he is eating lunch. We have come up with our own variation of the quesadillas and several other recipes.Yum!

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I got Pretend Soup at a yard sale years ago, when I was a preschool teacher, and also love it! My daughter, 21 months, loves to look at Cookbooks almost as much as she loves to read. She loves to identify foods in the pictures, and asks to look at a cookbook pretty much whenever we are in the kitchen. =)
    I love to give her opportunities to help me with stirring, sprinkling cheese, etc.

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    My son (9) loves to cook and he’s getting more and more independent. I got him the Williams-Sonoma Kids Cookbook for Chrismas this year and he able to do some of the recipes without any guidance.
    His favorite thing to make right now is Fruit salad. He had gotten adept enough at peeling and cutting that he was able to make an entire salad for Easter dinner without any assistance at all.

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    We love this cook book. I can remember my son and daughter making those popovers about 5 or 6 years ago and eating the entire batch! I have made recipe picture cards like Pretend Soup’s for recipes my kids really like so they can make it on their own.

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Jean, cooking is oh-so-Montessori. :) You’re doing it and didn’t know it, aren’t you? We like to make bread together. When it’s time to shape the rolls, I usually just hand my lil man a blob of his own dough while I finish. He likes to play with the dough until the rolls are baked. Talking about the bread…made me want to post the recipe on my blog (it’s there now.)

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    This book looks too cute! Looks like something I could use at home and at work (I teach severe special education.) You should check out the weekly themed projects at – I think you’d enjoy them. This week’s theme was “books.” I’d say a post about a cookbook applies!
    I’ve never had a popover before. What exactly is it?

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    My kids love to combine art and cooking, and it’s a great way to get them to eat veg: we’ve made all sorts of thigns out of carrot sticks, bananas, cheese, baby tomatoes, parsley, etc. My favourite by my 5-yr-old creations was an “egg in a nest on a tree”. We’re constructing a recipe book for her future self :-)

  • Avatar
    April 7, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Seth never passes up a chance to help in the kitchen. His current favorite is making smoothies which I plan on writting about for my Thur food post. I think what he likes most about them is that he can choose whatever fruit he wants vs me telling him what to put in it.

  • Avatar
    The Artful Parent
    April 7, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I’ll have to check out the other cookbooks you recommended–add them to my ever-expanding list of books to look into.
    Sarah – Maia is 2 1/2. She’s been “helping” me in the kitchen for over a year now although she’s probably just now at the point where her helpfulness actually balances out (sort of) the mess created. Not that I’m usually one to shun messes, but sometimes I just want to cook something quickly without one. Although, as Julie points out, there’s a lot to be learned from cooking.
    Michie – Popovers are super light and airy and made with egg, milk, flour, and butter. Have you had yorkshire pudding? They’re similar. I know that’s not a very good description. Can anyone else give a better one?
    Also, thanks for the link to Looks like a good site.

  • Avatar
    April 7, 2008 at 10:11 am

    We do love popovers! My kids love to help me make messy things (they like to grate cheese) and of course, anything sweet (chocolate chip cookies)!

  • Avatar
    Ginger Carlson
    April 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Jean,
    A large part of our life revolves around cooking together. We’re big fans of Mollie Katzen. In the next few days, I’ll post some of my favorite books to cook with to Thinking Outside the Recipe.
    Hope Maia is feeling up to more eating and cooking soon.

  • Avatar
    The Artful Parent
    April 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    We love smoothies too and make them almost every day. I’ve just started putting some greens (spinach, kale) in our smoothies after a couple of friends said they do it and like it.
    Ginger, I look forward to reading about your favorite cookbooks…

  • Avatar
    April 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I got this book from the library today and my daughter already enjoyed looking through it. Hopefully we’ll be able to try those popovers soon too! :)

  • Avatar
    April 8, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Macaroni and cheese is big at our house, because it has relatively few steps. Melt the butter, add flour, milk, stir, add cheese, add pasta…hey presto.

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