Nicholas is going through another of his phases where he can be fussy about eating vegetables. If I serve him protein and vegetables on the same plate, he’ll devour the meat or fish first and then just pick at the vegetables. We’ve been known to resort to bribing him with meat, along the lines of ‘If you eat another two spoonfuls of broccoli, you can have some meat.’ It works, but I don’t like doing it.
I was starting to rethink his meals, thinking about getting him to start with vegetables first before having protein, but without having to dish up the various components separately. A vegetable soup starter was looking like a good option. Then I read Helene’s post over at French Food Baby explaining the typical four-course French meal and I was sold.
What Helene does is have a vegetable starter before the main course, the logic being that you fill up on the vegetables when you’re at your hungriest, most likely eating a smaller portion of protein for the main. This doesn’t just sound good for little ones!
Helene suggests having a vegetable soup or vegetable finger food (cooked or raw) for the first course. I like the idea of offering a vegetable tasting plate to give your child a feeling of independence as they decide what to eat, and, as Helene does, you can have a couple of days’ worth of vegetables prepared in the fridge ready to go. Now I just need to get my act together and do this!
Soup, on the other hand, I’ve tried and so far it’s worked. A small bowl of soup as a starter at dinner and then I don’t worry so much about how many other vegetables Nicholas is eating off his main course plate (and meal times are less stressful). And you can find lots of soup recipes that don’t take much time at all to prepare (in fact you don’t want to be cooking the vegetables very long that their nutrients boil away). Keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and then freeze any leftovers for days when you don’t have much time (or desire) to cook.
I’ve been mainly doing root vegetable and lentil combinations, like carrot and lentil, but then saw this soup recipe on the BBC Good Food site and could immediately taste the sweetness of the peas and the freshness of the mint. I made a simpler version using frozen peas, omitted the garlic, sugar, lemon juice and buttermilk, reduced the mint slightly and used shallots instead of spring onions. I liked the taste of the soup without adding any dairy to it (I think it would lose some of its freshness), but I did add some small dollops of yogurt for colour on top.
This soup would make a great starter for adults at a dinner party or other occasion when you’re having a few courses as it’s not heavy on your stomach. It would also work as a cold soup.
You can , of course, use stock made from a stock cube (use the low-salt kind if making it for little ones), but because of the limited ingredients, it will taste much better if you use a good quality stock.
MINTY PEA SOUP
3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
850ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g frozen peas
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
Yogurt to serve
Put the shallots, potato and stock into a large pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 mins until the potato is cooked.
Add the frozen peas and simmer for another 5 mins.
Take off the heat and add the mint. Blend with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve hot or cold with a dollop of yogurt.
- use onion or spring onions instead of the shallots
What other ways do you use to get your munchkins to eat more vegetables?