Nothing beats sneaking in a wintertime ride and coming back home to something warm. What's on the menu? SOUP. Hearty, wholesome, nourishing, warm soup.
It's that time of year when you finish a ride with friends and quickly change out of that damp kit into some warm fleece, jeans, a touque, and a sweater (clearly I'm Canadian, but this can also apply to you softer California types who think 60 degrees is freezing!).
Soup can make a quality meal paired with a nice whole grain baguette and/or lean protein on the side or it can even serve as a starter to a meal or a healthy snack. The thing I love about soup is that just about anyone can feel quite accomplished in the kitchen after making a soup. It doesn't take a seasoned pro to put amazing soup on the table. Trust me.
Generally, if you have a few basics on hand such as broth, garlic, onion and ginger as well as a few basic spices such as salt, pepper, curry, chili powder, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and maybe a few limes and lemons, you can pull off some good flavors.
Sweet potatoes and potatoes are my favorite things to have on hand at this time of year, as well as beets. All of which make for amazing thick soups when blended. Can you picture yourself dunking that baguette into the bowl now? If not, get ready for it and double dip all you like as long as it's in your own bowl.
Add in a blender and voila, your soup goes from chunky to creamy. Trust me, you won't believe you made it. Neither will your friends. A hand blender or a regular blender will do the trick, although a hand blender is a bit simpler and leaves you with fewer dishes (BONUS!).
Both of these soups below offer great nourishment. Garlic, found in both soups, has been shown to help reduce incidence of the common cold due to a compound called allicin that is found in garlic. Regular intake of garlic is a healthy choice that many naturopaths and holistic nutritionist recommend today.
Onions, also common in soups are another healthy choice. Onions have a high amount of phytonutrients such as polyphenols and flavonoids such as quercetin. Onions are also a big part of the French diet that gets so much attention for disease prevention. Onions are an excellent source of biotin which is a co-enzyme and a B vitamin. Biotin supports the health of the skin, nails, digestive tract, metabolism and cells. Having an onion a day is a great way to improve your overall nourishment. Sometimes it's the little things like garlic and onions that can add to our overall health that we overlook.
Last but not least the bulk of the soups are made from sweet potatoes, loaded with beta carotene and vitamin A, helping keep those eyes sharp on the roads! Regular potatoes, which are an excellent source of B6 and phytonutrients with antioxidant activity. And broccoli, the KING of vegetables. Broccoli is a strong source of vitamin A and K, which can help keep your vitamin D stores in balance. It is also a great source of vitamin C (yes even though it's not orange) and omega 3 fats. Lastly broccoli is an excellent source of fiber, which can help reduce high cholesterol levels.
Are you convinced that you should add a daily dose of soup to your menu yet?
Let's look at the breakdown of a couple of hearty soups that can easily act as part of a recovery meal or dinner and their nutrition contents. Take note that the potato soup is a great way to get some extra greens in while also replenishing your carbohydrates. The sweet potato curry apple soup is lighter on the carbohydrates and overall, but is a great addition to a wholesome piece of lean protein and a side of whole grain baguette.
Broccoli Potato Soup:
3-4 medium sized potatoes peeled (approx. 6 cups)
4 heads of broccoli
4 garlic cloves
4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 tbsp. of Olive oil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot, add 1/2 the broccoli florets. Put the lid on and let them brown in the pan without stirring until the bottom side is seared and the top is bright green. Remove and put to the side, do the same with the rest of the broccoli. Put aside.
Add the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until onion is translucent.
Add in the potatoes and broth, enough to just cover the potatoes, let it boil until the potatoes are soft. Blend with immersion or regular blender. The longer you blend the more "fluffy" the soup will become. Be careful to not lift the blender too high or the soup will splash on you. Wait until it cools 5 minutes before you blend. Add more salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese, and serve with either some blackened lean protein or a whole grain or olive baguette, or both!
Nutrition Per Recipe: Calories: 990 Carbohydrates: 194 g Protein: 40 g Fat: 44 g (Makes 4 large servings)
Sweet Potato Apple Curry Soup:
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tbsp. butter
1 large apple, peeled and cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and cube both the apple and sweet potatoes. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, nutmeg, 1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until toasted, 1 more minute.
Add the diced sweet potatoes, chicken broth and 2 cups water to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and add in the apples. The broth should "just" cover the potatoes, they may even stick out a bit. Simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
This pairs very well with a blackened white fish or salmon with a lime drizzle on top.
**You can use chicken broth in this recipe and you can also replace the apple with 1 1/4 cups of apple sauce.
Nutrition Per Recipe: Calories: 730 Carbohydrates: 119 g Protein: 12 g Fat: 23 g (Makes 3 servings)
Next time you have a chilly group ride finishing near your place, prep a big pot of soup and invite your friends in for a nourishing home cooked meal. You'll be the talk of the town! SOUP'S ON!
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