My kids have told me over and over again that they don’t like beets. I have tried offering them in a variety of ways over the years- roasted, steamed, grilled, in salads, as a side, with herbs, and plain. Never any success. Then, two weekends ago, my husband and I had an outstanding dinner at The Farmhouse at Veritas in Virginia and one of the dishes we had was a golden beet soup, which got me thinking: what if I changed the consistency and appearance of the beets? Would that make a difference?
Turns out, yes! This past week I made an extremely simple beet soup and served it with pesto grilled cheese sandwiches and sautéed beet greens and it was a huge hit! Both boys gobbled up the soup and my kiddo who isn’t the biggest fan of veggies had seconds! I was reminded of a few things about introducing kids to new foods by the experience with the soup:
1) Try and try again, but not the same way every time. Once I changed up the way I was serving them beets, the boys were more open to trying them and found they actually liked them.
2) Find an entry point for the food. What I mean by this is, try to find a method of preparation that is appealing to your kid and then bring new foods in using that method of preparation.In this case, my kids both love tomato soup with grilled cheese. So the introducing them to beet soup (which also has a sweet quality the way tomato soup does) with grilled cheese made it appealing and not-so-scary.
3) Consistency can be key. Some kids are really sensitive to this and some aren’t. But if you’ve got a kid that is selective about what s/he eats, it can sometimes help to pay attention to consistency to see if you can get in that way. Creamy stuff usually ok? Then maybe a pureed vegetable soup or hummus will be appealing. Really into crunchy? How about some roasted chickpeas as a snack? In this case, I think both of my kids have struggled with the earthiness of beets, but when you puree them in a soup that aspect disappears.
4) Make it fun. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut the sandwiches into perfect shapes or arrange everything in some witty and charming way, it just means try to find a way to make the meal engaging and fun, and not stressful. In this case, I used the fact that kids love to dip their food to my advantage. Dipping their grilled cheese sandwiches into the soup was fun, as was getting their faces bright red.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 6 medium beets, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable. Beef stock will give it a heftier flavor)
- Salt and pepper
- Heavy cream or greek yogurt for topping (optional)
- In a medium or large saucepan, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add onion and garlic and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add beets and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the stock and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn it down to a simmer, put the lid back on and cook for 30 minutes, or until the beets are very soft.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender.