Our son, aged nine months, has been devouring purées like a man possessed for months. But since he’s also now rocking his first couple of teeth, we’ve begun trying to ease more solid food his way - the odd biscuit to suck on, an occasional hunk of bread to worry, that type of thing. Last weekend he scoffed his first proper meal – cheesy tomato pasta soup.
In short, he became a bonafide Italian.
According to his Nonna Marisa, my wife and her brothers were raised eating this soup for kids almost every day. I tasted a little myself and—while you’d turn your nose up if it appeared in front of you in a restaurant (a looker it ain’t)—it’s really very tasty. In fact I was disappointed not to get a bowl.
The stars of this baby-friendly soup are its tiny ‘pastina’ pasta shapes, which are so small they slip down easily without risk of choking (see these examples on Amazon). The soup’s primary taste however comes from juicy ripe tomatoes, which are boiled, skinned and blended, before being combined with aromatic fresh basil and a little olive oil.
And this soup’s child-pleasing naughtiness? That’s down to the creamy soft cheese that’s mixed through. Proprio buono!
The whole thing takes a few minutes to cook up—most of these spent preparing the tomatoes—but you’ll have plenty of tomato sauce left over to freeze, so it’ll be quicker to put together next time.
Serves: 1 hungry munchkin (with tomato sauce left over)
2 fresh medium tomatoes (Don’t have fresh toms? See the canned tomato advice at the bottom of this page)
30g/1oz of tiny ‘pastina’ pasta shapes
20g/0.7oz (one small wrapped portion) of kid-friendly soft/cream cheese
5 fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Optional: parmesan cheese
Step 1 – First we prep and cook the tomatoes:
- Use a sharp knife to 'score' a cross in the top of each tomato (these shallow cuts help the toms to peel).
- Drop the toms in a small pan of boiling water; the toms should be covered by the liquid.
- Boil until the skins have begun peeling off (approx. 8-10 mins).
Step 2 – Remove the toms from the hot water and carefully—try a pair of tongs and knife for this—remove their skins.
- Now chop the peeled toms into quarters, cutting out any hard green sections, and whiz for a few seconds in a food processor or blender.
Step 3 - Pour this sauce into a small pan and place on a very low-heat hob.
– To finish the sauce, stir in a half teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, and the torn basil leaves.
Step 4 – Heat a separate small pan of water on the hob and when boiling add the pastina.
- Set your timer as per the packet’s timings (note - such tiny pasta shapes usually cook in just 4-5 minutes) .
- While the pasta cooks, pop the portion of soft cheese in the bottom of your serving bowl – we’ll then pour everything onto that to get it melting nicely.
Step 5 - When the pasta is ready, carefully drain away most—but not all—of the water.
- Then pour the remaining pasta and water over the cheese in the serving bowl.
- Stir in three tablespoons of the basil-infused tomato sauce.
- And if you have some parmesan, grate in a half-tablespoon now too.
- Stir well to ensure all the cheese melts through.
Done – delicious Italian baby soup for one!
To serve: serve with a plastic bib, spoon, high-chair, and— don't forget—blow the soup to cool the first few spoonfuls!
I recommend freezing this in 3-tablespoon mini-portions if you can, or single tablespoon portions otherwise. This way it’ll be easy to measure out each kiddie serving next time around. Ice cube trays are great for this.
If you’re all out of toms and your little ones aren’t letting you leave the house, don't worry - you can whip up this soup using plum or chopped tomatoes from a can instead.
To go this route, just ignore
Steps 1-2 above. Instead pour a 400g/14oz can of chopped or plum
tomatoes into a small pan. Simmer this for around 15 minutes on a medium heat hob—breaking apart any whole toms after a couple of minutes with a
spoon—then after the 15 minutes are up use a food processor to blend
the sauce until smooth. Then continue with Step 3 above…