Holli Hartman/Staff

Chef Roland Schaeffer was one of three judges who taste-tested Confetti Soup on Wednesday at Burke Middle High School. The bean and legume concoction was rated on taste/flavor profile, appeal to students, creativity/originality and appearance/presentation.

Burke Middle High School rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for judges who came to taste the school's Confetti Soup.

Lined by the drum corps, the confetti-strewn path led to the media center, where the three judges were welcomed with sweet potato muffins, made by 11th-grade culinary arts student Tyler Manigault, and a video about the Confetti Soup recipe.

They then watched as four students -- eighth-graders Auja Ravenel and Ke'Shaun Jones, Manigault and senior Quatifah Lockwood -- prepared a batch of soup to feed 300 people, and sat down with the middle school student body to taste-test the recipe.

"This project was a group effort," Lockwood said. "We tested several recipes and came up with this one, and then we perfected it."

The soup was named one of 15 semifinalists from 340 recipes submitted in first lady Michelle Obama's Recipe for Healthy Kids competition.

The students were aided in the kitchen by Cypress Restaurant Executive Chef Craig Deihl and author and cook Nathalie Dupree, who are part of a committee working to get better food choices into schools.

The group also includes members of Slow Food Charleston, an eco-gastronomic nonprofit, and the Lean Team from the Medical University of South Carolina, which is based at Burke.

When the group decided in December to enter the contest, Deihl knew just where to start. He had the four students visit Cypress to taste-test recipes.

"We picked out ingredients that the students liked and put them together and went from there," Deihl said.

The contest required teams to develop at least one recipe using either whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, or dry beans and peas. The recipes also had to be easy to incorporate into school lunch menus.

The students' favorites were tested by Burke's student body, and Rainbow Citrus Slaw and Confetti Soup were entered in the contest. The Confetti Soup recipe was named a semifinalist in March.

Wednesday, the "dry beans and legumes" judges, who called themselves the "bean team," rated the recipe on taste/flavor profile, appeal to students, creativity/originality and appearance/presentation.

This was the last stop for the team of Eileen Ferruggiaro, a nutritionist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Roland Schaeffer, a Hall of Fame member of the American Academy of Chefs; and Karen Green, nutrition director of Thomas County (Ga.) schools. Since May 17, they have tested:

--Lentils of the Southwest, Sweeney Elementary School, Santa Fe, N.M.

--Fiesta Wrap, Charter Oak International Academy, West Hartford, Conn.

--Spanish Chickpea Soup, Skyline High School, Oakland, Calif.

--Tuscan Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup, Ira B. Jones Elementary, Asheville, N.C.

Other teams are judging the whole grain and vegetable semifinalists.

In the coming weeks a winner will be named in each category. The winners will compete in a cook-off at the American Culinary Federation national convention in Grapevine, Texas, on July 25. The grand prize is $3,000. The first-place winner of each category will receive $1,500 and the runner-up will get $1,000.

The contest also includes a popular choice vote, which ends May 31. The winner of that will receive $1,500.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 3/4 teaspoons of canola oil

3 2/3 ounces carrots, raw, diced

4 tablespoons plus 2 1/3 teaspoons kale, raw, chopped

3 2/3 ounces onions, frozen, chopped

3 2/3 ounces celery, raw, chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon plus 2/3 teaspoon parsley, raw

1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, whole

1/6 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 pound, 2 ounces black-eyed peas

6 ounces turkey ham, cubed

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions