If nothing else works, give pureed soup a try
BY CHEF VALARIE CARTER The Busy Kitchen
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 7:42 AM
Editor's Note: The Busy Kitchen is a Monday column written by two area chefs - Valarie Carter and Tiffany Poe - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They explore nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
My kids are 2 and almost 4, and since I'm a chef, they've probably been exposed to a few more foods than other kids their ages.
When my son was an infant, I made homemade baby food and he ate everything. Before he was a year old, he was eating Thai food, Greek food, and salsa by the spoonful. Same with my daughter.
But, my, how things have changed.
Just one drink of that magic elixir - chocolate milk - and the kids were hooked. It seems to take only one exposure to anything I consider junk food for my kids to decide it's a favorite.
I'd love to tell you that they eat everything I cook - including Brussels sprouts - but the truth is, they've turned picky on me.
Textures seem to be a challenge for kids. Maybe it's because they have little mouths and the pieces seem bigger. Maybe it's because they don't have as many teeth.
Or maybe it's because kids simply like sameness and the texture of coleslaw is, well, weird if you've never had it before.
Whatever the reason, I recently read a book that suggested that pureeing foods for older children will help acclimate them to the taste without having to deal with the texture.
While my first reaction to this concept was negative - and I don't intend to start making baby food for my toddler and pre-schooler again - I do think there is some merit in exposing kids to different foods early on. Depending on the source, research indicates that it takes between 10 and 17 times for a person to start liking a new food. And that doesn't include the times we prepare it and the kid doesn't even try it.
These days, if I think I don't like a food, I have to assume that I just haven't tried it enough times. All that being said, I'm willing to try a different approach in introducing new foods to my kids.
To kick the texture issue while providing nutritious meals, these days I'm serving pureed soups. Affordable, delicious, and perfect for chilly days, these soups are great for all ages not just picky toddlers.
Filled with nutrients and fiber, pureed soups might be the first baby steps toward presenting sautéed veggies next time.
GINGERED BERRY FRUIT SOUP
Makes about 4 cups
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
4 cups frozen berries of your choice (I used mixed berries)
1 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
1. Place ginger in a microwavable container. Add frozen berries, water and sugar.
2. Microwave mixture high power for about 3 minutes or until mixture is bubbling. (The time will depend greatly on the strength of your microwave.)
3. Puree mixture in the blender until very smooth. Serve immediately
4. Garnish with fresh berries. It's also wonderful with a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
POTATO CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Makes 3 quarts
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds Yukon gold or other yellow flesh potato, peeled cut into 1-inch cubes
1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 teaspoons dry dill weed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until foamy. Sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for about one minute. Do not brown.
2. Add potatoes, stock, salt, dill, cayenne, mustards and black pepper to mixture. If using fresh cauliflower, add it now and add water to cover. If using frozen, cook the potatoes about 10 minutes and then add the cauliflower and water to cover.
3. Cover partially with a lid and simmer until potatoes and cauliflower are very tender, about 20-25 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. (Or puree the soup in a blender in batches if necessary.) I like mine with a lot of texture left in the soup. Return to pan if using a blender.
5. Add heavy cream and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Warm through and serve garnished with grated sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.
PUREED GREEN VEGETABLE SOUP
Makes about 6 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, small dice
2 ribs celery, small dice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 freshly cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 pound frozen petite green peas
1/2 pound frozen broccoli florets
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and de-stemmed
Salt and pepper
1. Heat olive oil and butter in a 4-quart sauce pan until foamy. Add onion, celery, salt and pepper.
2. Sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for about a minute.
3. Add about a cup of stock, cover and simmer until celery is soft. Add peas, broccoli, thyme, and stock. Add water to cover vegetables. Cover partially with a lid and continue to cook until broccoli is tender but veggies are still green. About 10 minutes.
4. Puree mixture in a blender while still very hot. Return half of the mixture to original cooking pan.
5. Add spinach to blender and puree with remaining soup until very smooth. (It's important that the soup is hot so that the spinach will wilt.) Return spinach mixture to pan and stir to combine.
6. Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Heat gently to heat through but don't boil or continue to cook. The soup should remain a gorgeous, bright green.
A native Oklahoman, Valarie Carter earned a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University and an associate of arts in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She, her husband and their children live in Muskogee.