I don't know if this is just a phenomenon in my house, but convincing my toddler to eat soup has proved to be pretty difficult over the past year. I can understand it from a difficulty perspective when we're talking broth-based soups because, let's face it, mastering the art of spoon use is even more challenging when the food is sloshing around. But even thicker soups have been a tough sell. And it wasn't this way when she was just learning to eat...she was far less opinionated back then.
I know that she eats soups and stews at school since she often comes home in a new dress on the days they have chili or goulash and forgot to get out the bibs. (Yes, they have goulash.) I am guessing that part of the issue, at least at home without the benefit of peer pressure, is that she can't always tell what's in a soup when it's pureed or cooked for a long time. With chili or something like chicken soup, I can serve up the components of the soup and she can choose whether she wants to eat a mouthful of potato or bean or meat. But still, even knowing all this, I don't always let that dictate the dinner menu. Sometimes I consciously make a soup the way that I want to eat it in the hopes of someday broadening her view of what's acceptable. And in the case of this lentil soup, that meant it was getting pureed.
The way that I justify making something that I know she won't love is to surround it with familiar foods (usually cheese, crackers, and some sort of fruit) and to show her that mama and daddy think it's yummy. I don't fully expect to change her opinion, but I do hope to help her see that trying new things can sometimes lead to a delicious dinner. I also made sure that the soup itself was well seasoned since I have made way too many batches of bland lentil soup in my day! And I let her sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top herself because the girl loves cheese. It was a mostly successful dinner, apart from the mess that happened once she was done eating and started to "paint" with her soup.
(I am planning a post on table manners soon.)
Lentils are quick to cook, full of vegetarian protein, fiber, and pack a decent amount of iron. They are also incredibly inexpensive, so having a package in the pantry is a great way to ensure that you are never too far from a yummy family dinner. This soup is delicious when it's just made, but it tastes pretty great leftover, too. It does thicken up as it chills though, so you may want to add more broth when reheating. Or, keep it thick and serve it over a grain such as brown rice or serve it up to your kiddo in a reusable pouch.
30-Minute Lentil Soup with Veggies
It may seem odd to put pizza seasoning in lentil soup, but I promise that the soup doesn't wind up tasting like a cheesy slice. (Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing...) It adds a bit of depth of flavor, but you can swap in the alternate spices listed or just skip it all together if you prefer.
Serves about 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/4 cup lentils
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon pizza seasoning (or 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and oregano)
1 cup shredded kale or spinach
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Parmesan, plus additional for serving
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, lentils, and tomatoes and stir to combine. Let cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stock, and spices and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat so it's at a low simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are soft.
2. Stir in the greens and puree carefully with an immersion blender (or a regular blender or food processor). Stir in the butter, and cheese. Serve topped with additional cheese if desired.
Use sweet potato or winter squash in place of the carrot.
Try dried thyme instead of, or in addition to, the pizza seasoning.
Top with shredded mozzarella or cheddar for a cheesier version.