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Kid-friendly winter soup

Soups are healthy and nutritious, perfect for winter and here to stay. Is it time for a little conspiracy between mothers? Oh, yes!

I’m so in love with Boom magazine! Having the opportunity to cook with the excitement of a new mom feels so incredibly inspiring! What’s on the menu for our kids today? Well, they deserve nothing less than the best ingredients and the most fun recipes! I love these tiny humans so much and honestly believe that feeding them has been one of the most amazing and serious missions I’ve had as a mother. You might notice I’m using plural although I only have a daughter who is now 28 years old and that’s simply because our home has always been filled with children of all ages running around, playing and having fun.

I strongly believe that children are unbelievably smart, so much smarter than we are, as it seems that adulthood strips so much of our imagination, energy and curiosity away. Children would never eagerly eat something that doesn’t look good or tastes bland. That’s a fact! On the contrary, food needs to be enticing and yummy-looking to spark their interest!

I’ve witnessed countless battles given around the kitchen table and have also met quite a few kids that grew up with amazingly gourmet dishes, like macaroni with cucumber for example! What a perfect combo! And although all these kids grew up perfectly fine, I just truly believe that introducing our littles ones to as many flavours as possible is only for their benefit. A balanced and complete diet will feed their brain and boost their energy levels, and, as you know, that’s exactly what our kids need!

It’s not always easy, I know. The fatigue of everyday life, being a working mother and the demanding schedule that children have aren’t exactly helpful. It’s often quite difficult to make a meal plan (literally an everyday struggle) and cook creative, delicious and nutritious dishes that kids will find impossible to object to.

Soups are definitely among the least enticing dishes for children. First, because they’re usually made with some of the yuckiest vegetables and are tongue-burning hot and second, because they’re not very pleasing to the eye. But not all vegetables are equally yucky. For example, carrots and potatoes are perfectly acceptable, whereas celery and broccoli are not exactly a child’s best friend.

Whenever I struggled with promoting and instilling an idea or a healthy habit in my daughter, I tried to do it through play. Playing “mommies” was indeed very successful. As mothers, we’d feed our baby dolls broccoli, carrots and all kinds of disgusting green things and would always make sure to point out how important and nutritious they were. My daughter seemed to take the role of the mature and responsible mother very seriously and had to set a good example by eating greens herself.

But time isn’t always on our side and obligations can be relentless. Educational play isn’t always an option, so that’s where we need to work our magic. We might lose a few battles but we will win the war. Soups are healthy and nutritious, perfect for winter and here to stay. Is it time for a little conspiracy between mothers? Oh, yes!

For starters, let’s be realistic; there are some vegetables our kid might not eat at all. Start with larger quantities of the ones your kid has a preference for, like potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. Experiment a bit and with time, start adding some of those on the yuckier side. A bit of broccoli, spinach or celery. You can always add to the nutritional value of the dish, especially during winter, with a cup of legumes. Lentils, fava beans, anything you like. No one will ever know! As a general rule, you can add any ingredient you like and then let your blender remove all traces of anything unwanted and turn the soup into a smooth, velvety cream. Kids also adore pasta, so it’s always a good idea to add some of their favourite farfalle, alphabet pasta or even trahana for an even more delicious and eye-pleasing result.

But your mission isn’t over yet. You know how smart and picky children are, so your dish has to look tempting too. Avoid big soup bowls that look huge in the eyes of a child. Go for smaller, colouful bowls instead that will definitely spark their interest. Add some of your kid’s favourite pasta on top, a bit of their favourite grated cheese, a few croutons or a daisy-shaped bruschetta with melted cheese on the side, a bit of yogurt if your kid likes it and, just like that, a boring soup will suddenly turn into an interesting and fun meal.

Let’s not forget that kids go through phases and are easily bored. They’re naturally inquisitive and always looking to explore new things. Still remember the time we used to serve soup in mugs, lukewarm, with an extra wide straw. So what! Don’t be afraid to be a bit more playful, we all know sometimes the end justifies the means! It’s soup o’ clock!

Ingredients

4

Soup

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 medium sweet potato, cubed

3 carrots, sliced

5-6 broccoli florets

1 small celeriac

1 onion, chopped

2tbsp olive oil

Salt

1 organic vegetable stock cube

4 glasses of water

 

Optionally

1 small cup boiled legumes (beans, lentils, fava beans)

1 cup boiled pasta or trahana

Toasted bread in any shape you prefer with grated cheese (bruschetta)

Grated cheese

Yogurt

Parsley or dill leaves

Method

1. In a pot, heat olive oil and sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, start with potatoes, then celeriac, carrots (all cut in even sizes), water and vegetable stock. Season with salt and cook for approx. 20 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes until soft.

2. Add the cup of boiled legumes (if you choose to) and purée the soup using a hand blender until smooth and velvety. If you find the soup too thick, you can always add more water. If you choose to add trahana, just allow the soup to boil for another 10 minutes.

3. For the cheese bruschetta, cut a slice of bread in any shape you prefer, add a bit of grated cheese on top and toast it.

4. If you wish to add pasta, you can either cook it separately according to the package instructions and stir it in the soup or calculate the boiling time and then add it to the pot while the soup is still cooking.

5. Serve the soup in small bowls. Add the extra ingredients you’ve chosen. Pasta with grated cheese, strained yogurt with a bit of parsley or dill and/or the bruschetta.

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