Lizzie’s eating solids, which is to say she’s eating highly liquefied cereal and baby food purees. Her wrinkly-nosed reactions to some of the flavors she encounters on her spoon are quite funny (as are her grunts and screams of enthusiasm). I’m thankful for the organic security and convenience that Earth’s Best jars offer–don’t get me wrong–but that food is awfully bland. I understand that the warnings not to salt your baby’s food come from a reasonably cautionary attitude toward Americans’ tendency to excess. But other culinary tweaks can enhance flavor just as well, and can be good for both the tastebuds and the body. A dash of cinnamon, a pinch of pesto, a dribble of evoo does a body–and a food jar–good.
All of us food-loving breastfeeding types also know that breastmilk is a baby’s first introduction to the flavors of her food culture. (Check out my friend Jeannie Marshall’s new book on children and food culture!) If you’ve enjoyed curries, so will your baby, the logic goes. (Why is the example always curry?) Now, when I decide to do something, I dive right in. Total immersion. (I wink to another friend.) So, in my excitement about producing lots of flavorful baby food for my little Lizziekins, I pureed a bunch of the curried lentil split- and fresh-pea soup I’d been simmering, and gave my girl a bite.
Oh, it also had fresh cilantro pesto on top. Can you see where I’m going with this?
Her facial expressions were… surprised, interested, quizzical, and then, upset. Why did I think going from unseasoned-rice-and-peas to curried peas would be acceptable to her tiny tongue? Ah, well… When we ate the soup later, it was good. Warm, toasty, and earthy with a bright herbal twist.
Here’s a rough recipe.
Curried Pea Soup
6 cups broth or water
1 cup each split peas and red lentils
2 – 3 tbs. curry powder
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
handful of cilantro
Sautee the veggies in olive oil until softened, then pour in the broth, dried lentils and peas, bay leaf, and curry powder. Simmer until soft. Near the end, stir in the fresh/frozen peas. Using an immersion blender, puree part of it to thicken and smooth the soup. Meanwhile, make a simple pesto by blending fresh cilantro and olive oil. This is for drizzling on top.