I find being a busy working parent means that I don't always have time to plan every meal in small detail. As mentioned in one of my early blogs I often make lots of soup. I have done this ever since I started work even before children. It's cheap and healthy and it's a good way to use up all of the veg lurking in the bottom of your fridge (otherwise known as Fridge Soup!). We take it into the office for lunch and the children then have it for tea or for their evening snack. I find joy of soup when you have a baby/small children is that you can adapt the recipe and make a puree out of the vegetables or add Rice, Barley or Pasta to make it more substantial. When my girls were at the weaning stage, I would just keep a portion of the veg out and steam it to puree. This way the whole family was eating the same meal.
My mum has always made a cracking chicken soup using the leftover bones from a roast chicken. I make this at least once a week and both the kids and my husband love it. It's so easy to do; to make the stock, I put the leftover chicken in a pan, cover with water, add a bay leaves, whatever herbs I fancy, a couple of onions, carrots and whatever veg I can find in the fridge and an optional stock cube (when the girls were babies I used baby friendly chicken stock cubes) and let it simmer for a good 30 minutes. Drain reserving the stock then add cabbage, leeks, carrots, peas, swede, barley or whatever else you want to add and cook them in the broth until just cooked. Absolutely delicious. I used to blitz this for the children when they were babies and they loved it.
Tilly loved soup right from the very start but Florence still has her moments when she pushes it away (she is only 2 and going through a bit of a 'stage'). I always do cheese on toast or some pasta to add, otherwise she would be hungry but we are finally winning her round. She now likes my tomato soup and another family favourite is my sweet potato & coconut milk soup. This is a crowd pleaser, it's a sort of fusion soup with leeks, sweet potatoes, red pepper, garlic, ginger, coriander, stock and coconut milk. Before blitzing, I generally take some out for the children then add chilli for my husband and I. We all love it and it is really filling. If you'd like the recipe let me know and I will write the quantities down when I next make it.
To finish on an amusing note. My husband doesn't cook. It's a Hynes household fact! However, once when we first got together he wanted to surprise me and cook something for my birthday. When he asked, I suggested he cooked soup for me (I figured this wasn't too demanding). Well, when it was presented to me, it wasn't quite what I had expected. Summer Berry Soup! It was literally a (delightful) bowl of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and mint pulverised with a little sugar and poured into a bowl. Whilst delicious, it was not quite the piping hot, comfort food I had expected! Thinking about it now, the children might like this for pudding one day...(maybe with a bit of agave instead of sugar)!