If you check out the supermarket aisles you’ll notice that there’s a huge amount of space devoted to soup. We love the stuff! Traditional recipes in tins, tom yum goong sachets, posh gourmet ones in the fridge section. Noodles, croutons, chunky, creamy, smooth, spicy. There is a soup for every mood and whim.

Home-cooked versions are almost the perfect meal – usually it’s all from one pot. The liquid content makes them difficult to burn and leftovers make great lunches throughout winter.

But so many kids reject it! Which makes our ultimate family meal a little less ultimate! Thankfully we can change their opinions and shift them from being fussy a two-year old into a soup-lovin’ older child.

There are a few fabulous stepping stone recipes that can help you introduce the entire genre into your regular meal plans.

If you think about it, baby food isn’t much of a departure from soup – it’s just a pureed thicker version. So start there, when the kids are young. Mild soups that you make for the family can easily be pulped into baby food. Draining off a bit of excess liquid first may be all you need for total success. Obviously this works best with hearty meat & veg style dishes. Slow cookers are a brilliant way to create these. Just chuck everything in and do something else for the day (is there a better way to cook?)

These style of soups will work best through early toddlerhood when cutlery coordination is still developing and thin soups are unrealistic and frustrating for little kids.

Once their skills do start to improve then thick pureed vegie soups are a good option. Serve small amounts and use them more as dips. Torn up bits of bread can be dunked and squeezed and licked and hopefully eventually gobbled. This is a fun way to transition.

As they get older you can start to introduce the crowd-pleaser soups like this chicken & noodle. It can be made easily in one pot or the slow cooker. The flavours are soothing. Hearty chunks of veg provide nutrition and the noodles make it insanely kid-friendly.

When kids are younger, drain off most of the liquid. As they get older, leave a bit more in. By age 4 or 5 they should be able to manage the entire dish successfully.

Happy souping!


Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
250g bacon, rind and fat removed, roughly diced
1.5kg whole chicken (organic if you can afford it), washed, dried
3 mushrooms, thickly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1.5 litres of chicken stock
1 tsp ground pepper, plus extra to serve
2 bay leaves, ½ bunch parsley (flat or curly), ½ bunch thyme (use kitchen string to tie all the herbs together so you can remove them easily at the end)
2 carrots, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
125g can corn, drained (or 1 corn cob)
¾ cup frozen peas
75g packet 2-minute noodles (discard the flavour sachet)
sliced spring onions, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the onion and bacon. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and the onions are soft. Tip into the slow cooker.
2. Pop the chicken into the pan, wing-side down. After 5 minutes, turn over and brown the other side. Toss in the mushrooms and garlic for another minute or so. Tip this into the cooker.
3. Also add in the stock, pepper, herbs, carrots and celery. Cook for 7 hours on low. Remove and shred the chicken (discard skin & bones) and return to the pot with the corn, peas and noodles for 30 minutes more.

*Written by Wendy Blume, food blogger at Vegie Smugglers