A couple months before the baby turned one, I freaked out: Wait, I’m expected to keep a small child alive on human food? I am unprepared! How is this done? Why don’t they cover this in parenting classes? Because, realistically, that first year is easy food-wise: just gimme the milk and nobody gets hurt. But the doctor warned that by the end of the first year, milk alone is not enough to meet their nutritional needs and from that point on, boy, are you in the spotlight. “Oh, you feed your baby [insert food that most children want to eat exclusively — chicken fingers, goldfish crackers, macaroni and cheese — here]?” the neighborhood Mompetitor sniffs as you bust out all you could bribe your kid to eat that day at the park?
And so begins the next “phase” of this sporadically updated site: the one in which I try to feed a tiny human real food, with sustenance. After tossing and turning one night trying to figure out some sort of Food Management System that didn’t involve me buying a set number of freezer packages and jars each week, I had my eureka moment one night, and I declared it: SOUP! Soup will be the answer. Seasonal, delicious, chock-fulla-good-stuff soup! You can make soup out of just about anything, and by golly, I would. Pureed until he handled textures like a pro; chunky and stewy soon after that. Make a big batch over the weekend and you’re set for the week.
People, I nearly patted myself on the back for my brilliance as I took the baby to the Greenmarket to buy summer squash, onions and sweet potatoes. “Soup! Soup is the answer!” I hummed as I wheeled him from stand to stand. And thus, you know where this is going. For three nights, the baby slurped down as much soup as we’d heat up for him. Hooray for carrots! Hooray for zucchini! And on the fourth night, he put his hand in front of his mouth and decided he would from that point forward, despite being unable to hold his own spoon, that he was too grown-up to be spoon-fed. And then the real fun began.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
2 pounds yellow summer squash or zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy wide pot over moderate heat. Cook onion with salt, stirring until it begins to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes off heat before pureeing to desired consistency. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.