Meal planning with little ones, who are notoriously picky eaters, can be frustrating when you’re trying to serve healthy food, especially in the winter when fresh fruits and vegetables are at a minimum. Soups are a great way to pile in the nutrition while making mealtime a slurpy adventure. Plus they’re comforting and make use of frozen or canned vegetables in a pinch. Depending on how spoon-savvy your tykes are, you can make most of these soups thicker and chunkier for ease in eating too. Or finish up thinner broths with a straw.
Chicken Noodle Soup is maybe the most classic soup of all, and this version that uses tiny rice-shaped orzo instead of egg noodles is even easier for little hands to handle. Carrots and celery are the usual suspects to accompany silky broth, pasta, and chunks of fresh chicken, but you can also drop in some of your favorite winter greens, like fresh spinach, to add flavor and vitamins. A healthy squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of Parmesan cheese would also be delicious.
Make Taco Tuesday any day of the week with this Crockpot recipe that’s kid-approved. With ground beef, chicken, or turkey (my personal choice) options you’ll be able to find your family’s favorite variation easily. Or you could sub in more beans for a Meatless Monday option. Load up your bowl with your favorite taco toppings – tortilla chips, salsa, cilantro, etc. – and you can make each bowl as grown-up (or not) as you’d like.
Who doesn’t love a loaded baked potato, full of bacon, cheese, and rich in B vitamins and potassium? This soup puts it all together in a creamy, dreamy bowl, and it’s a lightened-up version to boot. Let your kids add their own toppings at the table – different types of shredded cheese, bacon crumbles, and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can always add more veggies like peas or change up the meat with ham or chicken chunks, whatever your kid prefers.
Spaghetti and Meatballs are the ultimate kid meal, and this veggie-packed soup version with cut-up noodles for ease in slurping will be as fun to make as it is to eat. If you’re comfortable with your kids handling raw meat (and washing up immediately afterward), they’ll love rolling up the meatballs and gently dropping them into the simmering “sauce.” Enjoy with a slice of garlic bread for dunking!
Broccoli is the vegetable of choice around my house, and this hearty comforting soup combines those loveable green cruciferous little trees with cheddar, sour cream, and a blender for luscious texture and flavor. You can also substitute Greek yogurt or goat cheese (no, really!) for the sour cream to boost nutrition while keeping the creamy decadence.
What are your kids’ favorite winter soup recipes? Did we miss any classics?
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Emily Brown is a preschool teacher, freelance writer, and mom to two energetic, funny little girls with a flair for drama and a shared love of cheese and pickles. She’s also written a book on the history and food of restaurants in Birmingham, AL called Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu.