Brisk mornings and cool nights … winter is all about warming comfort food. The problem is that comfort foods like stews and soup are often met with a resounding YUCK from young children. So how DO you get kids eating soup? I decided to embark on my own family experiment with this particular dilemma a few years back when my daughter was around 5 years old. I had been avoiding making soups, which I loved, simply because I couldn’t handle the whining and whingeing that went along with them. It took time (nearly all winter in fact), trust and a steely resolve but now soups are happily and regularly on the menu through winter in our house.
Here’s how to get your little ones eating soup, and more importantly… not complaining about it:
Bread as backstop
Bread is your friend when it comes to kids learning to like soup. In that first winter, I had to be happy with my daughter mainly filling up on bread and butter when soup was for dinner. I also usually offered a nourishing dessert on those nights so she never went hungry. Little by little, after many soup dinners of eating just bread, she became ready to dip the bread in the soup and then slowly to use the spoon. Mix it up by serving different kinds of breads with soup to help your kids explore a world of different bread types – sour dough, baguette, ciabatta, Turkish. Don’t miss an opportunity to inject variety even if it is just the bread!
Pick a soup that contains one of your child’s liked foods as a main ingredient. Familiar = easier to like. Think potato, bacon, ham, pasta, noodles or chicken. Don’t be discouraged if your child still doesn’t dive in at the first, second, third or even 10th offering.
Serve soup in your child’s favourite bowl or a small cup. In our case, much of the novelty and fun of eating soup is that I always serve my daughter’s in a fancy china teacup and matching saucer. Three years later, she still loves her soup in it. A smaller bowl or cup is less intimidating than a large bowl.
Chunky or smooth?
Most young kids don’t like chunks in liquid… end of story. Pureeing soups to a smooth consistency can make them easier for your child to like.
So your child isn’t ready to EAT the soup? How else might they be able to explore it using one of their other senses? Try these: Serving others using the soup ladle. Stir the soup to cool it. Watch the steam rise. Smell it. See how fast the soup runs off the spoon when you pour it off the edge of a spoon.
Our daughter knew we understood that soup was a food she was still learning to like. We reminded her as often as we could that we believed that one day, when she was ready, she would like soup. And one day, she did!