Pupils pick up veg ideas

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Take a group of hand-picked, freshly-scrubbed, aspiring chefs.

Point in direction of nearby allotments with trowels and baskets.

Stir in a pinch of disbelief when they discover that vegetables actually come from the earth.

Now blend together to create a brave new home economics class for the 21st century.

That was the recipe yesterday when youngsters from Broughton High School teamed up with top city chef Jean Michel Gauffre.

As part of a school project to explore their neighbourhood, the S1 pupils were taken over the road to the Inverleith allotments to gather vegetables for five pots of soup.

Despite being full of wide-eyed optimism, Monsieur Gauffre, a former chef at the Vista Palace Hotel in Monte Carlo and now owner of La Garrigue, voted Scotland's favourite restaurant, said the youngsters didn't know their way around a home grown leek at first.

The 55-year-old said: "They were a bit puzzled at first and didn't know you could grow tomatoes in Scotland. Some of the kids said they didn't like them but when they tried these little sweet cherry tomatoes they loved them.

"We took them to the allotment because we wanted to show them vegetables don't come all nice and clean and vacuum packed. It's important for them to know they don't need a can opener to make soup."

Monsieur Gauffre added that the pupils were able to distinguish between different herbs and flavours remarkably well, and took to the challenge with gusto.

He said: "It was surprising to see how able they were to identify the herbs. We ground them up and they were learning about each of them, it was great to see how well they did."

Ami Raeburn, 11, from Broughton, made a leek and courgette soup from scratch for her classmates, but admitted she wasn't keen initially.

She said: "I didn't really think that I'd like it at first. We dug up the vegetables and it was a lot messier than we thought.

"We came back to the kitchen here and we got shown how to peel and chop everything.

"Then we put stock in and water and it wasn't long until it was ready. It was a lot easier than we thought."

Alongside Ami was classmate Nicholas Davanna, 12, from Pilton, who made Georgian soup - an onion, leek and tomato broth.

He said: "It was a lot harder than I thought. I've never picked vegetables before. I chopped up the onion, I haven't done that before.

"It only took an hour or an hour and a half. I thought it would have taken a lot longer. I might make it at home."

Broughton High School has been given the allotments, run by community groups in Drylaw, to use for a number of projects.