Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Homemade chicken soup for babies

When Mairead was starting off on solids, she refused anything pureed. She insisted she feed herself. So, after a few frustrating weeks of figuring out what to feed a 7 month old who refused anything pureed, I stumbled upon the baby led weaning approach to introducing solid foods.

As a first time mom, I was amazed that babies this young could eat anything and everything without ever buying a jar of baby food. It was so cool! But it seriously works. No joke.

One of Mairead's favorite foods to eat when she was little (under 1) was chicken soup. It was the only thing she would let me feed her with a spoon! I was new at making homemade chicken soup, but I thought it was the perfect meal for when Kevin and I were having something that didn't suit her well enough (which was a rare event) or when Kevin and I had soup, but wanted to use bigger ingredients or different ingredients.

Now, three babies later, the baby led approach is the way we start our littles on solid food. No purees. No baby food maker. Nothing. And it is easy. And they love it. To this day, our kids eat anything and everything. At 10 months, Callum has no troubles eating any kind of meat, fish or steak.

The other night, we cooked an Organic roaster chicken. I bought an additional bone-in breast because I was going to make some homemade soup, and this time, I would be making a separate soup for Callum. Cooking a roaster chicken is great because it is cost efficient and if you plan it right, can make several more meals.

For us, I never make a separate broth for the baby. They get everything we do - basil, garlic, rosemary, pepper and all the good stuff in the broth. Nothing like starting early with developing a taste for all different things. No bland food for our little fairies and prince! Who likes bland food anyways!?!?

I boil the carcass for several hours. You can either put it in the fridge or freeze to make another day or do it once it cools. Turn off the heat and let the broth cool down. Once that happens, I separate the broth from all the meat, mirapox (Trader Joe's brand that has celery, onion and carrots) and seasonings. I take several cups of broth and put it into a smaller pot for Callum's soup, and the rest of the broth is for us. Depending on how "strong" the broth is, I may or may not add a little bit of water.

When our babies first start eating soup about 7 months, I will shred the chicken very fine, and sometimes will put all the veggies into a food processor to really get them tiny, but not pureed. Now, Callum is about 10 months old, and I will just dice them up for him. Once they cook, they'll get super soft, so they'll be perfect. As they get older, it's the perfect meal for them to attempt to eat with a spoon. It's mushy, and perfect for little spoons.
Going through broth for chicken

Small chunks of chicken
I will put the remainder of the chicken into our broth.

Once the chicken is done, I will get together my veggies. Today, I am using carrots, summer squash, zucchini, sweet potato and peas. The possibilities are endless here. Sometimes I'll use regular potatoes, or whatever you can think of, add it. Just make sure you have enough broth to support the amount of veggies/extras you put in.

Diced veggies - squash, zucchini & carrots (peas & sweet potatoes added next)
Cook the veggies until they are nice and soft for baby. Once the veggies are super soft, add the pasta.

Chicken with veggies in the broth
For the pasta part, I use pastina, orzo or star pasta that is really tiny. I use about 3/4 of a cup. Don't use too much or it will leave you with no broth! Once the kiddos get a bit older and eat the "adult" soup, I will use tortellini or egg noodles.

Soup cooking with the pasta & veggies
Once it is all cooked up, I will let it cool a bit. I have the glad tupperware containers that are the perfect "baby food jar" size. I will separate the soup into these containers, cover them up and throw them in the freezer! With the older kiddos, I like to use the bigger containers, like lunch size ones, and freeze them.

They are perfect for those nights you order pizza, go out to dinner or are having a meal that doesn't quite suit baby or kids (which is not very often in our house)!

And if you're looking to sneak some veggies into your toddlers, make the soup, and just really puree different veggies into the broth so they don't even know they are there. Our girls are not big potato/sweet potato fans, so I will mash up the potatoes super soft, and voila! The vegetables disappear and They love the soup.


  1. Do you use salt for your broth? If so, how much? My LO is sick and I'd like to make this for him.

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