Kid Tested, Toddler Approved: Tomato Noodle Soup

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Out of all three kiddos, #3 is definitely the pickiest. Add to that teething and basically food time is a nightmare. Seems like the only thing I can get her to eat is either Mediterranean in flavor or a soup of some kind. If it's a Mediterranean style soup, I get a small high-five...

On a night of desperation I opened a can of one of those tomato alphabet/character pasta soups. I thought surely she'll eat this. Nope -- hated. it. So did the other three. There goes $4 down the drain for organic crappy soup. Extremely irritated, the next day I made my own version. It was far more successful and gave me the rare small high-five.

The soup is extremely simple and can be made with a few base ingredients. I added white beans because they are soft and easier for her little teeth to eat, and gives protein. I chopped the carrots super small. Adding both flavor and color, it's a great way to sneak in some veg if you've got a picky eater. Canned diced tomatoes together with juices as well as 1/2 can of tomato sauce to give that thicker consistency gave the irresistible red color. Some basil for fragrance and flavor, and finally super thin noodles complete the dish. If I had alphabet noodles I would have made it using those. The idea here is to use a fun pasta -- anything will due -- that's small and fun and most importantly easy for the kids to eat. If you really are up for it, it's a great soup to get them to help you to make as well! Enjoy it!

Tomato Noodle Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped very small
1 celery stalk, ends trimmed and chopped very small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small (or 1/2 large) bay leaf
1 (12 oz) canned diced tomatoes -- recommend San Marzano tomatoes (they're the best!)
4 oz tomato sauce
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (12 oz) can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed with cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn by hand
about 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup pasta for noodles; (i.e. alphabet, skinny noodles, ditalini, etc.) to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir often because the dice is small; you don't want the veggies to burn! Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook another minute. Add the canned diced tomatoes together with juices directly from the can right into the pot. Add the tomato sauce as well, stir to combine. Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil. Add the basil leaves and white beans, mix to combine. Cover with lid, reduce heat down to let soup simmer (rather than boil) and cook for another 20 minutes or so. You want the beans to be nice and tender.

Taste the soup and adjust with seasoning to taste. If the tomatoes you used were a little tart, you can add a pinch of white granulated sugar to help balance out flavors if you like. But if you used San Marzanos, sugar is almost never necessary.

Once the soup is to your liking with seasoning, bring the soup back up to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta. Stir. Cover with lid and cook according to pasta directions -- using very thin noodles like I used will take under 5 minutes; thicker pasta like alphabets or ditalini will take more like 8 or even 10 minutes. Taste the soup and when the pasta is al dente, the beans are tender, and the seasonings are good, the soup is ready.

I serve it pretty warm with oyster crackers or Goldfish crackers on the side for the kids to drop in and "fish" out with their spoon. Crusty bread is also a great option.

This soup is fantastic the next day as well, so make a big batch with leftovers for the next day!

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