10 January 2013

Baby Bites: Stracciatella

We love preparing soups in the winter for a little soul-warming. Come to find, Nerd loves soups, too, which inspires me to get creative with recipe experimentation to meet her nutritional needs. One recipe that the hubs and I truly enjoy is straight from my Giada de Laurentiis cookbook: stracciatella. It's similar to egg drop soup in the way beaten eggs are carefully poured into hot stock to form silky strings. The recipe for stracciatella is simple and basic, opening up a world of possibilities in how the final product will look and taste. In this post, I share the combo of ingredients I used for a veggie-packed, toddler-friendly version of this grown-up soup. The edamame is the perfect addition to this soup with its protein power, and it's a great way to vary the fiber intake in your child's diet. And, as usual, I featured an ingredient from our garden. This time, it was Swiss chard!

Nutritious and colorful, just the way Nerd likes it.

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large handful of Swiss chard, washed well and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 cups veggie stock (I used my homemade veggie stock--very tasty and low in sodium)
  • fresh thyme, leaves plucked from 5-6 strands
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet or sauté pan. Add the garlic and carrots, sautéing them until they are soft and slightly golden. This brings out the sweetness of these aromatics. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the edamame. Allow to boil on high for roughly one minute, and then cut back the heat to medium-low to allow the edamame to simmer for the next 10-15 minutes. I left the pot uncovered while it simmered. Check the firmness of the edamame before the next steps, making sure they are soft enough for your toddler's bite.

Once the edamame has reached the desired softness, add in the sautéed garlic and carrot. Give it a minute or two before adding in the Swiss chard and fresh thyme. Stir well. The chard will wilt almost instantly. Throw in a dash of pepper. Finally, get the stock spinning in the pot by stirring forcefully. When you let go of your stirring spoon and the stock spins on its own, slowly add the beaten egg. It will cook as soon as it makes contact with the stock, forming those silky strands I mentioned earlier. Remove the pot from the heat and pour into a bowl for your little one. I let Nerd's bowl sit for a few minutes so that it was served to her warm, not right-from-the-stove hot. She liked her soup with a Ritz cracker crumbled into it.

This soup will keep in the fridge for 3 days. It freezes well, too. Don't keep it longer than 3 months in the freezer. And remember to thaw carefully in the fridge before heating up for your toddler's consumption.

Nerd shows us how much she loves a dish when she leans over her tray for the next bite.
With this soup, she grabbed the bowl and tried to drink it down.

Alternatives:
  • Don't make your own stock? No worries. Opt for a low-sodium stock, preferably chicken or veggie in nature. If you don't have low-sodium stock in the house, use 3 cups stock and 3 cups water.
  • Have your toddler on a vegan diet? Then go for the veggie stock and leave out the egg. Tofu sautéed along with the garlic and carrot would be a great alternative to the egg, even though it won't have the same stringy effect.
  • Not sure about edamame? Or Swiss chard? Try using veggies with which you are more comfortable, like peas and spinach. Or lima beans and broccoli florets. You could even add a small chopped onion and celery stalk to the sauté pan with the garlic and carrot.
  • Don't let herbs limit your recipe. I used thyme because I had it from a previous recipe I made earlier in the week. Basil, oregano, and parsley would be great alternatives or would taste great in combination with one another. Fresh herbs usually taste better, in my opinion, but dried herbs will work, too. You usually have to use more when cooking with dry herbs.


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