We eat a lot of soup around here. I find it an excellent way to get vegetables into my little ones tummies. So when I had an email request for a soup recipe that is toddler friendly I jumped at the opportunity to share our latest favourite soup. We first ate this soup for lunch at my friend Nicky’s. While Nicky and I were yakking away (as two Mum’s will do), my children finished their bowls and proceeded to eat my soup too. I knew this was a winning recipe and with little persuasion Nicky shared her recipe with me.
Nicky’s Tomato & Vegetable Soup
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 1 cup chopped squash or pumpkin
- 1/2 cup chopped celeriac OR 1 celery stalk chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
- 800 ml can chopped tomatoes or 2 x 400ml cans
- 500 ml chicken stock preferably homemade
- 1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 -1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- splash of cream
- finely chopped parsley + buttered toast to serve.
- Melt the butter or ghee in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and saute without colouring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, squash, celeriac, garlic and tomato paste and saute briefly. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add the sugar and spices and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to puree until smooth. Return to the heat, add cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and finish with a splash of cream, about 2 tablespoons, stirring to combine. Serve with toast and finely chopped parsley.
When feeding soup to toddlers you have two options. Either a brothy soup with chunks, where we pour the broth into little mugs and scoop the bits (noodles, rice, vegetables, meat) out with a slotted spoon into a separate bowl. Little hands eagerly hold the warm mug and sip the flavoursome broth made from homemade stock. The bowl of chunks is prodded and dissected, the favourites (noodles, corn and green beans) eaten, the other items (broccoli, spinach and legumes in our case) pushed to the side.
The other option is a cling-to-the-spoon soup. The cling factor coming most often from the addition of a starchy root vegetable such as potato, squash or pumpkin. The texture needs to be just right, not too runny not to thick, so when a small spoon makes contact with the soup it automatically magnetizes itself to the spoon. This makes for easy deliver to the mouth by small hands. Alternatively you can spoon feed soup but I like to have my hands free to enjoy my own bowl of soup. It is great for building coordination too, my 16 month old son can scrape a bowl of cling-to-the-spoon soup completely clean.
On first appearance this soup looks like your standard canned tomato soup, and tastes pretty similar, but it is much more. Besides tomatoes and onions typically found in tomato soup, it contains five other vegetables; carrots, squash, celeriac, garlic and garnished with parsley. It is a vege-boosted soup that still tastes like it is just tomato soup. Genius. Nicky is a master of making not-so-healthy recipes into healthy recipes that still tastes like it’s not-so-healthy for you.
Celeriac may be a new vegetable to some of you reading this. I love the stuff. It is also called celery root in some parts of the word, and as the name hints it tastes like celery. However, it is like a creamy version of celery having a more rounded flavour rather than the in-your-face taste of celery stalk. It is the not the most attractive vegetable but keep an eye out for it at a farmers market near you, seriously you won’t be sorry. I use it grated or diced in soups, it can be mashed with carrots and parsnip for a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes; roasted with pumpkin; or grated raw with carrot and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice for a crunchy winter salad. If you are also a celeriac fan I would love to hear how you prepare it.
In the garden this week:
Autumn is truly here and growth is seriously slowing down. I sowed some onion seed several weeks back and almost re-sowed the patch (as I thought snails had chomped down on the onion shoots). However, with closer inspection I found the first folded reeds of the onion plants poking their heads 1mm above the ground. It is miraculous to realise these will grow into full sized onions (hopefully).
Harvesting: kale, silver beet, spinach, coriander (cilantro), herbs, lemons, baby carrots, Granny Smit Apples.
Tasks: Still checking brassica’s every few days for caterpillars (only find the occasional one now). Removed green bean plants, leaving several in the ground to gather seed from once the pods have dried and hardened. Sowed more coriander, spinach and tried beetroot but think it is too late as no sign of life yet. The cool mornings in our little valley with the stream at the bottom of the garden keep the temps low making it difficult to grow in winter. On the upside the broad beans are flourishing in the tunnel house – they like the cold.