Tuesday 6 October 2009

Silverbeet Soup and Marmalade Muffins

As I have mentioned before, the journey of a small baby learning to eat solids is bound to have an impact on our eating. Today I will share with you a soup I made on Sunday which served both baby and adults, as well as some muffins made to use up some fruit puree.

Sylvia is eating a bit better than when she started on solids. I’d like to attribute her improved enthusiasm to the meals I am making, but it is probably as much from becoming more familiar with the concept of food. She is actually opening her mouth when a spoon comes near it (hurrah!).

The recommendation to introduce one new food every few days is a challenge when food blogging encourages such variety in my diet. We have had poccoli (potato and broccoli through a sieve) and banavocado (mashed banana and avocado). Many leftovers find their way into a soup or smoothie but the banavocado was very good on toast with either peanut butter or honey. Occasionally I go off track, like this morning when I had foolishly put all her fruit puree in a muffin and had to mix her baby cereal with a little of my apple, beetroot, orange and passionfruit juice. Three new foods in one day! Oops!

The organisation required can be daunting. Last week I finally found a dish she liked – onion, pumpkin, lentil and carrot puree. It was delicious. I have a few servings in the freezer in iceblocks. So on Sunday I decided to make a puree using a large bunch of silverbeet (chard) and a small pumpkin that had been on special at the supermarket. I hated silverbeet when young but blogging has helped me develop such an appreciation that it is the first leafy green I have offered to Sylvia.

Sunday was a day when energy was hard to come by. The clocks went forward with the start of daylight savings so we lost an hour, which was not good when Sylvia was awake most of the night and had a long sleep-in. By the time she woke, we had lost the morning and had to postpone a catch up with a friend (sorry Heather!) It was an incredibly short day, particularly after a long walk by Coburg Lake to get her to sleep in the pram.

I was glad dinner was a simple affair of chopping and boiling up some vegies. Sylvia had hers plain and we had a little seasoning and cheese in ours. It was lovely - velvety smooth with a bit of texture from the rice and lots of flavour. Sylvia enjoyed hers. I have stashed some in the fridge in iceblocks for future meals.

Yesterday I continued to combine baby food and grown up food. I had also made apple and blueberry puree for Sylvia on Sunday. She was less keen on this. So I threw it into a my whimsical take on a traditional Almond and Berry muffin recipe. I omitted the wheat flour, yoghurt, butter and eggs, and instead used it as an opportunity to use up various nuts, gluten free flours, frozen berries and my mum’s runny marmalade. I used a little flax because I like the way it held Ricki’s cookies together and I wondered if it contributed to the slight chewiness in the top.

E was not a fan. He told me they were too sweet for him. But when I asked my mum if they were very sweet she disagreed. The marmalade balances the sweetness with a slight citrus bitterness. E also said I should bake butterscotch cakes with choc chips and nice berries like raspberries and blueberries. But these have blueberries in them, I harrumphed. I was black affronted! I liked the dense nutty texture.

My mum enjoyed the muffins too and agreed you would not know they were gluten free (or vegan). Now she is back from Europe, it is nice to have her visit for lunch again. Today I provided soup and muffins and mum brought a lovely slice of spinach tart. I am looking forward to the day when Sylvia will join us in sharing lunch.

Silverbeet, Pumpkin and Rice Soup
Serves 4-6 baby serves, 2 adult dinners and 4 adult lunches

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 large bunch (700g) of silverbeet, chopped, including stalks
  • 1 small (1.7kg) Kent pumpkin
  • 2 small zucchinis, chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • dash each of cumin, smoked paprika, ground ginger, cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated tasty cheese, to serve (optional)

Place rice, water and onions in a stockpot and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add silverbeet, pumpkin and zucchini and bring to the boil again, then simmer for about 15 minutes. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes while I fed Sylvia. Puree.

If you have a baby you wish to feed, take out between 1-2 cups of puree and freeze in blocks the puree that you are not using in the next few days. This is optional.

For the adults, add stock, flavourings and season to taste. Ladle into bowls and add about a handful of cheese to each bowl if desired. (I had it with and without cheese and both ways are very good. Omit cheese to make vegan)

Marmalade, Blueberry and Nut Muffins
Makes 48 mini muffins

  • 1 cup of nuts (I used walnuts, pecans and walnuts)
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • ¼ cup purple corn flour
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 1 cup marmalade
  • ½ cup apple and blueberry puree
  • 125g blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen berries
  • ¼ cup oil

(Note: you could experiment with using different nuts, flours, jams, puree and fruit in this recipe. After all this is just one of my experiments. You could try bigger muffins but they might be a bit squishy!)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line mini muffin pans with muffin papers.

Mix dry ingredients with the wet ingredients till just combined. (I just put the dry ingredients in one bowl and then put each of the wet ingredients on top but you could mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl if you wish.)

Spoon into mini muffin pans – fill almost to the top. Bake for 25-35 minutes. They should be quite brown on top. I baked one lot for 25 minutes and some were a bit moist but the ones that I forgot about and left for about 40 minutes were quite good and more chewy on top, although some were a little dark on the bottom.

On the stereo:
Me and You and Everyone We Know (soundtrack):
Various Artists


  1. As always, everything sounds perfect. What a lucky little baby that gets to enjoy your cooking! I hope to be back cooking soon. I miss my kitchen, but you are always an inspiration.

  2. yeah, I am glad Sylvia is getting into the food. I am super behind in email so I never got back to you about our baby food stuff. I was only organized b/c my mom a pediatrician helped me out so much.

    ANd, I love that chard soup. yum.

  3. I recently made a silverbeet and bean soup and wasn't thrilled--wish I'd seen your recipe first! This sounds delish. As do the muffins (I bet they wouldn't be too sweet for me!). I'm guessing the tops were, indeed, chewy from the flax--it has that effect in several of my recipes, too.

  4. What a journey you all are taking! A baby really can change our world :)

  5. i love no-chew foods. i made a saag curry last night with the silverbeet in our garden. it's growing faster than we can use it!

  6. First of all, I love that you make your own baby food. It is so much healthier and adds so much more variety to your baby's life rather than just eating Gerber all the time. Plus it's easier for you since you can actually make things that you want to eat as well! I really like that pumpkin/sage/onion combination. It is almost like mashed potatoes but with pumpkin!

  7. Thanks Lisa - hope you are cooking up a storm again soon - I have been enjoying some of your crackers (will post soon) so have been enjoying your inspiration also

    Thanks Maybelle's mum - you are lucky to have a paediatrician on call!

    Thanks Ricki - I like the flax chewiness much more than the texture of eggs - glad your recipes have helped me discover it

    Thanks Anh - babies do change our world in so many ways, don't they!

    Thanks Philippa - I love no chew foods too - wish I had lots of silverbeet in my garden - I have some rainbow chard but it does not seem to grow much

    Thanks Joanne - I think I remember tasting commercial baby food as an adult and can't bear to think that is the first thing you eat in life! But I look forward to when sylvia eats what we do.

  8. Mmmm silverbeet is one of my favourite greens! It sounds fantastic in soup form. And Sylvia is definitely one lucky little girl to have such great variety!

  9. Thanks Vegetation - have never used silverbeet like this in soup before but am sold on it now!

  10. Thi soup sounds great. One question - in the process you mention zuccini but not in the ingrediants list? Is this an errant veg sneaking in the post? :-)

  11. Thanks Ruth - I did use a small zucchini but would have preferred a couple - will amend recipe - good to get some attention to detail!


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