“Eat better soup,” every mother said at least once in her life. Why do we believe in the usefulness of this dish and what danger lies in soups for children?

Are soups really healthy and should they be given to children

It is difficult to argue with the fact that soup is a tasty, light and warming dish. But where did the claim about its usefulness come from? Firstly, chicken soups have long been famous for their healing properties for influenza and SARS, and they are also about 50% liquid, which makes them not very high in calories. Soups also use foods that we rarely eat outside of this dish, for example, beans , and eating a lot of different vegetables means providing a varied diet. But all this is more about the body of an adult, which cannot be said about a one-year-old child.

The popularity of soups is explained, rather, by the history of human nutrition: it was cheaper for a peasant to prepare a hearty stew from simple ingredients than a delicious vegetable salad or a dish of fish or meat. In Soviet times, the situation was the same with public canteens: their task was, first of all, to feed people, and not to surprise them with culinary delights. The lack of calories from the soup was more than made up for with bread, hence the opinion of our grandmothers originates that “you don’t eat soup without bread.”

The catch lies in the cooking process: when we cook meat, fish, mushrooms, water is enriched with fats, proteins and many other useful and unhealthy substances from the main ingredient. So, if you do not drain the first broth, then it will, of course, be the most delicious, but also the fattest, heaviest for the gastrointestinal tract, and there will also be a lot of purines in it. Purines are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, but when accumulated in large amounts in the body, they can be difficult to eliminate and contribute to the development of certain diseases, such as gout .

What about soup for children

Usually, by the time the first feeding begins, a young mother has already lined up in her head a romantic sequence “baby + soup = health”, so I want to introduce this dish into the child’s diet as soon as possible. But you should always remember the simple rules. 

  • Always start with mono-ingredient food (i.e. the dish should consist of one product).
  • You can give soups if the baby is 7 months old and some vegetables have already been introduced into his diet. But this is not about the broth: the first soups are, as a rule, vegetable purees from 2-3 components, diluted with water.
  • The first broth should be vegetable. You can enter it at about 8-9 months of the child. If you add meat to the soup, cook the pieces separately. At first, the whole consistency of the soup is mashed potatoes. Liquid soup with pieces of vegetables and meat is possible only by the year.
  • Meat or fish broth is only allowed for children over 2 years old! Due to the high fat content, meat broths cannot be normally absorbed by the fragile gastrointestinal tract and can lead to allergic reactions. 
  • Even when the child grows up a little and is ready for such food, one cannot do without tricks: it is better to cook the first meat broths on the loin parts of beef, veal, turkey, rabbit, chicken (without skin and bones). After boiling, the fattest fat must be drained, then pour new water and bring to readiness. It is the second broth that is allowed for feeding babies. For fish soup, choose low-fat white varieties of fish.
  • Mushroom broths are the biggest danger. The children's body (up to about 5-6 years old) is not ready to receive mushrooms and decoctions for them, because special enzymes for digesting mushroom proteins have not yet been developed in the growing body. Industrially grown mushrooms (for example, champignons or oyster mushrooms) can be introduced into the child's diet in small quantities after 3 years, but forest mushrooms are categorically contraindicated, according to some estimates, even before adolescence. 
WHO rates soups in baby food as a good way to diversify it. But sometimes a soup with its liquid consistency may simply not provide the necessary calories and energy value to a growing organism, replacing the solid mass with water. In addition, liquid soup often gives only short-term saturation.

So soups are overrated?

Rather yes than no. Of course, soups are an element of national cuisine, which gives unique tastes, a sense of comfort and a homely atmosphere. But everything is good in moderation, and it is more important for a person to focus on the characteristics of his own body, not to forget about chronic diseases and food intolerances. In addition, it is more important for the child to provide a healthy balanced diet that will please both mother and child.