Anna Hurning – the chef behind the Polish food blog “Polish Your Kitchen” – shares her “serve a lot of soup” methodology, memories of cooking in her family home, and 15 kid-friendly recipes from Polish kitchen

kid fierndly polish food

“Mom! What’s for dinner?” is one question that I’m guaranteed to hear every single day. My 14-year-old was always easy to feed when she was little. She ate everything! Many times, she shocked our house guests by scarfing down pickled herring, that was normally only consumed by the adult Polish side of the family. She didn’t mind trying a variety of foods, and ate what was in front of her, always.

She was an adventurous eater, one might say. Only if you consider a normal western diet adventurous, though.

I was born and raised in Poland. I was brought up on home-made cooking, eating a lot of soup, not a huge amount of meat, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Cooking was simple but nutritious. One meal needed to provide nutrition from all food groups: carbs, fats, greens, dairy and proteins. Home chefs didn’t shy away from using products that may not be considered “kid-friendly”, like beets, sauerkraut, sorrel, dried peas and a wide variety of grains, like buckwheat or bulgur. As a child, I didn’t really think about food. I just ate what I was served, because it tasted good. It tasted good, because it was familiar. It was familiar because I was fed it ever since I could eat solid foods. The formula is rather simple, isn’t it?

I knew that when the time came for me to have my own children, I would adopt this style of cooking and feeding our littlest family members. Once I was able to feed her from all four food groups, I prepared a lot of soups (and also served them to adults). This was my favorite and the simplest meal to make. A delicious broth with a bunch of different veggies, a bit of good fat from lean meat or fish, some grains: like kasha, bulgur, buckwheat, rice or cuscus; a splash of dairy and a pinch of aromatic herbs can be delicious and nutritious. I knew, that after feeding this to my little one, she would get a very well-rounded meal and nutrients needed for her developing and growing little body. Soup can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Only one rule applies, make it taste good.

Following my “serve a lot of soup” methodology, also made eating out easy. Anywhere in the world you go, there is most likely a soup on the menu. This allowed me to stay away from the ever-present chicken nuggets and French fries. As a result, once my child was old enough, she explored other options on the menu, making the deep-fried mystery meat unattractive. I’d be lying if I said she never eats chicken nuggets, but it’s a meal like others, consumed once in a while, and not exclusively.

I realize not all kids are the same, and with some, no matter how much you try, they will just not eat what we want them to. Best we can do is cook meals that are delicious and encourage them to try new things. Hopefully one day, the food they do try, becomes familiar and move onto the list of favorites.

Today, I’m sharing a few recipes from my Polish kitchen that I consider kid-friendly. Most of them I grew up eating and enjoy them still.

1. Polish chicken soup

Number 1 on my list, always – Polish chicken soup {rosół}. I don’t know a child (in Poland) who doesn’t like a bowl of hot chicken soup, served with their favorite pasta. It’s ultimate comfort food.

2. Polish pancakes

The second favorite meal that every child loves – Polish pancakes {naleśniki}: thin doughy pancakes filled with jelly or sweet cheese mixture. It’s a perfect dinner or breakfast option.

3. Tomato soup

Tomato soup {zupa pomidorowa} – kids love this soup also. Maybe it’s due to its simplicity, a bit sweet and savory served with their favorite pasta.

4. Potato pancakes

Potato pancakes {placki ziemniaczane} – crispy potato patties, served with sour cream and sugar are a perfect combination of sweet and sour.

5. Meatballs

Meatballs {pulpety} – a mixture of pork and beef in a smooth and aromatic sauce, served over pasta, dumplings or mashed potatoes is always a hit!

6. Fruit filled pierogi

Fruit filled pierogi {pierogi z owocami} – this summer favorite is normally served topped with cool sour cream and sugar, an offer tough to turn down, even for the pickiest eaters.

7. Plum dumplings

Plum dumplings {knedle ze śliwkami} – doughy, warm dumplings filled with sweet, ripe plums topped with buttery breadcrumbs and sugar.

8. Fruit soup

Fruit soup {zupa owocowa} – another summer favorite. A sweet soup spiced with cinnamon and cloves, served with a favorite pasta.

9. Apple pancakes

Apple pancakes {racuchy z jabłkami} – exchange your regular flapjacks for these delicious apple-filled breakfast pancakes and let the flavor speak for itself.

10. Minced meat patties

Minced meat patties {kotlety mielone} – this savory dish made it onto our list of favorite kid-friendly dishes because kids can eat these in bulk. This, combined with mashed potatoes and a side of cool creamy cucumber salad will NEVER be turned down.

11. Cucumber salad

Cucumber salad {mizeria} – as mentioned above, this cool salad is always a hit. Who doesn’t like cucumbers!?

12. “Lazy” pierogi

“Lazy” pierogi {pierogi leniwe} – a savory dumpling served with a buttery breadcrumb mixture and sugar is also one of my childhood favorites. This may seem odd at first, but may surprise you with the balance of flavor.

13. Potato dumplings

Potato dumplings {kopytka} – soft and doughy potato dumplings that are a great vessel for any creamy sauce, I love it with “pulpety”, mentioned above.

14. Noodles with sweet cheese and strawberries

Noodles with sweet cheese and strawberries {makaron z serem i z truskawkami} – I could not wait to eat this when I was a child. Fresh strawberries were available for only a short season in Poland but they tasted amazing. Cold berries over hot noodles and sweet farmer’s cheese was one of the dishes I look forward to having every season.

15. Fried pork cutlet

Fried pork cutlet {kotlet schabowy} – a thin piece of pork, breaded and pan-fried, served with mashed potatoes and “mizeria” is also one of the kid-friendly classic dinner combinations. This meal can be found on menus of most Polish restaurants, as it’s enjoyed by not only children but also adults.

About the Author

Anna Hurning is the chef behind the Polish food blog Polish Your Kitchen. After 17 years of living in the U.S., she moved back to the “old country” and continues to share her love of food, family and traditions. She recently started a YouTube channel where she presents her culinary techniques and shares her stories of growing up in Poland. For more information visit her website page.

Photo source: Polish Your Kitchen

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