In Italy, doctors recommend that babies be given a brodo, or broth, made from vegetables, to which rice cereal, meat, olive oil and parmesan cheese is added. The broth is considered a very important part of baby nutrition. Of course, always consult your pediatrician before feeding an infant.
If we assume that Italian is basically like French but with more o’s and z’s, I believe one source recommends the following procedure:
For the broth
1 liter of water
1 of each of the following: potato, carrot, zucchini for ages 4-6 months; after 6 months, experiment with adding celery, spinach, chard, pumpkin, onion, fennel, and lettuce. At one year, consider adding beans, green beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and tomatoes.
Boil the water and vegetables over a low heat for about 2 hours until the amount of water is reduced by half. Then strain to remove the vegetables. For a child over 6 months of age, reserve the vegetables and purée with a small amount of broth. This can then be added to the final dish.
To make the final dish, blend a cup of broth with:
3-4 tbps rice or other gluten-free cereal
freeze-dried meat (not available in the U.S. as far as I know- perhaps ground meat would be a suitable substitute). Lamb, rabbit and turkey are recommended as first meats. For older babies, experiment with adding fish (except for shellfish) and ham.
vegetable purée, if using
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon parmigiano-reggiano
Do not add salt. Blend well and feed to baby!
My experiment with this procedure was unfortunately cut short when my husband misunderstood (or didn’t listen to, as I suspect) my instructions as I left the house and I returned to find the cooked vegetables drained. When I told him that OBVIOUSLY the brodo was the whole point, he looked confused. Anyway, to be honest, when I tasted the liquid partway through the cooking process it tasted to me more like, well, cooking liquid, and not broth.
I also had a hard time getting my son to eat the mashed vegetables with olive oil and parmesan, even though I thought they tasted quite pleasant. He is actually very stubborn about eating vegetables, and much prefers fruit. When he does eat vegetables, he sadly prefers the super refined texture of baby food which is hard to achieve with a mixer.
Next time I think I will add a piece of chicken and an onion to improve the flavor of the broth. I like the idea of adding olive oil and parmesan cheese, though, to baby food, since this adds healthy fats and some flavor that is sorely lacking in unseasoned food.