The First Meal

Elsa had her first meal of solid food a couple of days ago! Luise made her potato mash with a splash of oil and water. It was a big day for her and also for us, now we can start to make her our own all-good baby food. Although it seems like everybody have their own opinion on what kind of food is good for babies and children.

– Surely you will give Elsa normal food, a friend recently asked me. And with normal she meant meat, dairy products, gluten and sugar. She is not the only one. Another comment that we heard a lot of lately is that children doesn’t like vegetables but love meatballs and hot-dogs, so we would have a lot of trouble raising her without eating meat. I have just recently realized that most people actually believe that the way they eat is The Right Way. And our way – not eating meat, focusing on whole foods with a low intake on dairy products, gluten and sugar – represent some kind of diet that is good for you for a while, but not in the long run. Well, we believe that the way we eat is all-good for our bodies and that everybody probably would feel better cutting down on meat as the centre piece of the dinner and focus a little bit more on whole foods and vegetables.

With that said, it would make us feel very strange not giving Elsa the kind of food that we believe is best for her. Call me naive but I believe parents who complain that their kids won’t eat whole foods or vegetables have a lot to blame on their own eating habits. But if we fail I promise that I will be the first to admit it. And if Elsa some day decides that she wants to try a hamburger with her friends, we will be totally fine with that.

Maybe this could be mistaken for a convert-to-our-way-of-eating speech, it’s not. We have no problems with other people eating meat or not giving their kids vegetables, everybody must live after their own beliefs. Just as we do.

This soup is not for Elsa, not yet anyway. We were inspired by the Tuscan bean and bread soup Ribollita, and wanted to make our own version of it, replacing the bread with barley and the cannellini beans with these beautiful borlotti beans. When the soup was done we had changed so much that we decided not to call it Ribollita. But it is just as good, and more nutritious. Scroll down for the recipe.

Barley & Bean Soup
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 small carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves (can be replaced with sage)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 glass white wine
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pearled barley
1 zucchini, cut in quarters
10 cherry tomatoes, divided in half
2 cups fresh green beans
1 cup fresh borlotti beans, removed from pods and preboiled for 20 min.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon juice and white wine and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock and let it cook for 30 minutes. Add barley, zucchini, tomatoes and let it cook for another 25 min. Then add green beans and borlotti beans and let it simmer for 10 more min. Remove the bay leaves and add salt and pepper. The soup is done when the barley and the beans are done. Serve with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel


  • Payal
    Hi, Can I ask what kind of milk Elsa drinks? I am trying to avoid dairy milk but am not sure what a good alternative is. I make my own almond milk but I know that doesn't have much fat for her or fortified vitamins. I would like to avoid store bought. I thought I would ask since the foods you feed Elsa are in line with what I feed my one year old.
  • Sasha
    New to your blog by way of Deliciously Ella link and I love it and the way of life you are choosing and sharing. Brilliant and so beautifully styled I am very inspired! Obviously for me resonates as it's a lifestyle I choose myself. No kids but by way of need to explain my food choices often when colleagues or friends are shocked at how 'healthy' and 'restrictive' they believe my diet to be, I refer to the European (Italian or French or Scandinavian) whole food diet and lifestyle that has changed little and resists being adapted to a processed North American diet. Then I point at examples of gorgeous healthy Italian or Nordic men and women whose external appearance reflects their internal health. I don't preach my diet choices as each of us has to arrive at our decisions in our own personal way, but if my plate of colorful plant based lunch or nutritious family dinner offering inspires someone to explore new flavors and food ideas then wonderful. I only wish I had arrived at this lifestyle much earlier. Your children are so fortunate that this is the food foundation and relationship you are establishing at their nascent age. It will serve them so well and their tall, healthy, glowing adult selves will thank you. Anyway, love the blog love the recipes, love the vids & am putting your first cookbook on my shopping list. Thank you.
  • Rinna
    Late to comment but you are right about feeding her the best foods, she would get all the proteins and fats for full growth from starches, veggies, lentils, beans, fruit, whole grains. Engine 2 in US a plant based Health site bring their kids up entirely plant based. They run a series called plant based kids. I have done the plant based nutrition certificate t Cornell uni and believe me, you are doing right by eliminating meat and minimizing dairy.
  • Hearty, comforting, colourful and I Love barley! I make something like this with roasted Aubergine pulp and paprika x
  • Se antoja.. me gustan las sopas con los vegetales frescos. Saludos de Puerto Vallarta,Jal. México
  • Justine
    I think your way of eating is just perfect, I have always been a huge nutrition freak and love that I agree with every one of your food choices and beliefs. I hope one fa I am as naturally talented as you both are to create my own foods but until then ill be working through each and every recipe of yours! And when I one day have children... It will be the same for them :) I am so glad I stumbled across this blog I'm now going to by the book and follow :D
  • Although I would never eschew meat (chicken & fish especially) nor dairy (raving coffee addict right here) myself, I think we should lay on the judgement to parents who don't serve their children vegetables and who buy tons of processed and junk foods. That's just not right.
  • Nikki
    This soup looks so beautiful with all of its whole veggies and colors. Thank you for sharing! Just one question though: is there another ingredient one could substitute for the white wine? Or would it still taste pretty good without adding it all together? Also, I have to say, I was raised a vegetarian by my parents and I'm really grateful for that because unlike a some of my friends who've converted to being vegetarian in their later years, I don't crave meat at all so it's a lot easier to stay vegetarian. And I think that it is wonderful that you are feeding Elsa such good, whole, nutritious food from such a young age! Love this blog, keep it up! :)
  • Kiana
    Dont listin to what other people have to say! I mean look at how fat and unhealthy kids are to day!!
  • Marianela
  • I am always happy to see kids being raised vegetarian. My parents raised me as a vegetarian and I am now 31 years old. I have been vegetarian my whole life and am very grateful to my parents that they raised me this way. I feel that I am strong and healthy and have a lot of energy and never want to eat meat in my life. Elsa is lucky! Thanks for your blog. I can't wait to make the frozen pink cheesecake - it looks delicious!
  • Rosann
    I made this tonight for dinner and my husband and I loved it. Unfortunately, we had no borlotti beans and had to use garbanzo, but it was still great. Thanks for the recipe. Here are a few photos if you're curious:
  • I so hear you. We get those very same comments from people about the way we choose to bring up our kids and feed them. I don't listen to a word they say. I have been vegetarian my whole life, only eating fish very occasionally. My whole family are vegetarians, 3 girls and two boys. We have never had ANY problems. I used to even compete at an international level in sport and my way of eating never held me back. Stick you your guns, I think more people need to wake up and start feeding their bodies real food, well done!

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