Soup – three recipes to inspire you

Soup – how to make chefs out of cooking impostors

Athlete food must be functional; and by this I mean practical, quick, easy, affordable and ticking all the boxes for support of your training goals.

athlete

None of you (that I know anyhow) has the time to be preparing gourmet meals. So I will use our house as an example of somewhere that is manic and yet we still manage to prioritise healthy eating because we want to get back our training investment time and not following a good diet makes half our efforts worthless. 

The-Cyclists-Diet-600x350

Yes, it takes a little effort to eat well; but it shouldn’t be a mission. We both work self-employed jobs, which means that work and training must come first. So food purchasing, preparation and cooking happens in the gaps; the time in the morning before work starts, the interval between clients, the time after dinner when something can be chucked in the oven, the time on an indoor bike when slow cooker or one-pot meals can be thrown together and left to cook themselves on timer and so on.

Just like your training happens in between work, family, sleeping and life in general; once you begin to make an effort with your “food time management” it starts to get easier.

Quick tip:

Take some time on Sunday (or whatever day works for you) to look ahead at your work and training week, and then slot time-slots into your diary for purchasing food, cooking food, and if you are really on top of your game slot in your nutrition goals for the week taking the specifics of your training into context.

Success is the result of good planning.

planning

This is how I approach an athletes nutrition for the week; study the training plan and then set nutrition goals along with practical tips and helpful food suggestions. Plus a nice tea break for me!

Why soup?

Soup is a great food for non-cooks as you really cannot go far wrong. I never use a recipe to make soup and so long as you stick to the basics of an onion, some garlic, your vegetables, stock and some seasoning and then blitz you should arrive with a tasty soup! Furthermore the internet will be full of recipe suggestions. As you get more adventurous explore herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic, chili, herbs, ground cumin, curry, thai spices and so on.

Most soups are low in calories and full of vegetables and so a great way to hit your daily veggie and antioxidant quota.

Also you can chuck meat and even cooked grains or beans and lentils into soup before serving to make a fast complete meal that is nourishing and sustaining for cooler weather days.

one pot

Here are three soup recipes that I recently prepared. They weren’t premeditated;  the mushroom soup was decided on when I saw several large punnets of mushrooms on sale for 50 cents; the roasted tomato and red pepper soup was similarly decided on when I saw organic vine tomatoes at a knock down price, and the roasted vegetable soup was created out of having odd bits left and not much time to do anything with them. Soup requires minimal tool so makes cooking in confined spaces with limited equipment achievable also.

Tip:

  1. Make large batches of soup and freeze extra for busy days; simply remove from the freezer the night before or the morning that you need it.
  2. If you can use stock that is home-made from beef, lamb or chicken bones then I highly recommend this as fresh stock is simply amazing for your health. (We are currently living in limited space so this was not an option for me this time; buy the best quality stock that you can.). Here is a blog post written about how to make a simple bone stock.
  3. Soup is best served with some protein rather than bread; enjoy with sliced meats.
  4. If you are an athlete, then I recommend using soup to create a one-pot meal. Similar to how in summer months you can make large salad bowls or even winter salad bowls, soups can be made more nourishing by adding foods into them to make a one-stop meal. For example add carbohydrates from cooked rice/ millet/ quinoa/ buckwheat or root vegetables (e.g. some left-over roasted potato from the previous night) and some chopped meats, leftover-meats or some canned tuna or salmon.
  5. Serve soups with some fresh chopped herbs or home-made pesto to add even more nutrition clout. I made a quick pesto the same morning from fresh parsley, fresh coriander, fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked ground paprika and the left overs of a packaged pesto. It tasted great!

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 punnets approximately of tomatoes; preferably organic and always well washed
  • 2 red peppers; washed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small tin tomato puree
  • Home-made or good quality stock
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional but the sugar definitely brings out the flavour of the tomatoes)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

Quick roasted tomato and red pepper soup 2

1. Halve or quarter the tomatoes, roughly chop and remove the pith and seeds from the red peppers, and place all in a roasting tray. Roast on a low-medium heat (e.g. 150-180 C) for approximately 40 minutes to an hour or until well roasted; avoid burning. I did not add any oil to keep the fat content of the soup low and found that they didn’t need any oil so long as you kept the oven temperature reasonable to prevent burning.

Quick roasted tomato and red pepper sop

2. Mince the garlic and gently fry in some olive oil in a large saucepan (you will be adding the tomatoes and stock later).

3. When the tomatoes and peppers are roasted add to the garlic; cover with stock, add your tomato puree, a teaspoon of sugar, and bring to a simmer.

4. This does not need to simmer for long as all you are doing here is integrating all the ingredients so shortly after this you may blitz your soup with a hand-held blender or in a Nutribullet or food processor.

5. Season to taste and add shredded fresh basil leaves before serving.

Enjoy!

PS if you want to create a smoother and more chef-like tomato soup please check out my cousin Jeni’s blog

Quick and Easy Mushroom Soup

mushroom soup 7

When mushrooms are being sold at 50 cents for a large punnet you make soup. Autumn is mushroom season so make the most of it in August and September; shopping smartly in the supermarket is how to do modern-day hunter gatherer!

This is where my dad used to take us mushroom picking as kids (Killoscully, Co. Tipperary). This is also the location where I was first chased by cows thinking my bucket full of shiny bright white mushrooms was cow fodder. I also learnt a deep respect (fear) for bulls!!

Again I didn’t use a recipe but instead went by intuition, so if you want to do some exact tweaks and variations on this soup try a google search or healthy recipe book. I choose to not add any cream or dairy as generally the flavour of the mushrooms is more than delicious enough to avoid adding more calories.

This soup got a big thumbs up in our home; it really was as delicious as it was simple to prepare!

Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • 2 cloves or more garlic
  • Butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • Lots of mushrooms – these can be little button ones or large capped fresh local ones
  • Dried or fresh thyme (optional; other seasoning that works well with mushrooms includes bay leaf, mixed herbs, and nutmeg)
  • Home-made or good quality stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

 

mushroom soup 3

1. Saute the garlic and onions in butter or olive oil until starting to turn translucent.

2. Roughly slice your mushrooms and add in batches to your onions and garlic. I am sure that technically you should remove each batch as you proceed but who has time for this! If the mushrooms start to stick add a smidgen more butter or oil.

3. Keep adding your chopped mushrooms, then the thyme, salt and pepper, and when all are added and starting to look cooked, cover with stock, and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for as long as you have, for example 20-30+ minutes until everything has time to cook through.

mushroom soup 2

4. Allow to cool and then blitz with a hand processor or food processor/ Nutribullet.

5. Season to taste and enjoy!

We served this with some rice and cold meats all in one bowl for lunch the following day.

mushroom soup 6

Roasted Vegetable soup

This soup can be a handy recipe when you are staring at the fridge and have a random selection of vegetables and don’t know what to do with them. I think I had onions, sweet potato, peppers and courgette; I cannot fully remember but it worked!

Ingredients

  • Mixed vegetables – preferably ones that will kind of marry with one another and roast well. E.g. onions or leeks, a root vegetable such as sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, pumpkin or squash, courgette, peppers, fennel, tomatoes, etc.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Mixed dried herbs or herbs such as thyme, bay leaf or herbes de Provence.
  • Home-made or good quality stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

I am sure, depending on your vegetable selection that you can get a little adventurous with the spices such as ground cumin, lemongrass, a dash of curry powder and so on.

Roasted-vegetables-before-oven

roasted veggie soup
I hope that this gives you some ideas and also the confidence to give soup a go. If you don’t yet trust yourself here are two helpful books

Love,
Andrea

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