Wednesday, 11 May 2011

You say baby food, I say soup...

Soup. Not baby food. OK?

It's disheartening, isn't it, when you think back to all the lovely vegetables your small babies ate when they were first eating solid food. Lovely purees of sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach and potato. Delicious risotti, stews and casseroles... they couldn't gobble them fast enough. Fast forward to now: "I'm not eating THAT", "I think I'm going to be sick", "Is THAT what's for tea???"

All of which is, clearly, a ringing endorsement for a blog that claims to be about feeding kids well (I'll get me coat...)

To be entirely fair to my Beautiful Girl, she is generally up for trying unfamiliar vegetables and will eat a reasonable portion even if it's not her absolute favourite thing. Gorgeous Boy, on the other hand, has a sophisticated on-board vegetable detection system that kicks into top gear when he senses the presence of anything resembling a vegetable. (Apart from peas. Phew! Hurrah for peas! And jumping beans are sometimes allowed, too.)

Soup, though, is another matter. Soup is the cloaking device by which vegetables are allowed to by-pass the detection system. In fact, the GB has been known to actually request soup - specifically, orange soup (orange is his favourite colour). And to that end, I always have a supply of orange soup frozen in small portions in my freezer. Except when I don't.

And to anybody who would like to point out that I have taken an enormous backward step and am getting all smug about feeding a four-year-old child what amounts to baby food I say... yes, yes, I know. Shuddup, OK? It's VEGETABLES.

Orange soup

(quantities can be varied and substitutions made to suit individual taste)

a glug of olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 red (or orange) pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons red lentils
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
Stock (either fresh or from a cube)

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan that has a lid, and add the onion, garlic, squash, pepper, celery and carrots. Sautée until slightly softened, then stir in the lentils, spices and stock. Place the lid on the pan and bring to the boil then turn it down and simmer for 20 minutes or so, or until the vegetables are all softened. Blend and season to taste, then serve, possibly with a swirl of cream or a dollop of tangy natural yoghurt.

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