There is nothing more satisfying after a chilly winter run than a comforting, delicious winter vegetable soup to come back home to. I am a huge fan of creamy soups filled with colourful ingredients to help me recover better after a heart-pumping workout. Soups also provide a ‘big bang for your buck’, because you can get lots of protein, fiber, and carbs for not too many calories! In the blog post, I would like to share my 5 favourite soup recipes which are excellent for runners, due to their nutritional content. These winter soups are very easy to make and I usually prepare them in bigger batches in advance, as they keep for at least a couple of days in the fridge – ready to heat up whilst you are stretching down, having just returned from your run!
1. Beetroot and sweet potato winter soup
This recipe is from the lovely Madeleine Shaw, from her cookbook called ‘Get the Glow’, which is one of my favourite go-to books in my kitchen.
Benefit for runners: Beetroots are packed with nitrates which have been found to be beneficial for exercise performance. When our bodies process nitrates, your blood vessels widen, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles. This allows your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, so regular consumption of beetroots could improve your performance and endurance, and also lower your blood pressure if you are having issues.
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 3 or 4 beetroots, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 500 ml bone broth, chicken or veggie stock
- 200 ml water
- Salt and pepper to taste
To decorate (optional):
- 5 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
- 10 g finely chopped fresh dill
Rub the chunks of sweet potato and beetroot in 1 tablespoon coconut oil, the cumin and a grind of salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat for 1 minute, add the onion and saute with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. Throw in the sweet potato and beetroot and saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly so nothing burns, then add the broth or stock, and the water.
Bring the temperature to a simmer for 30 minutes, puree with a hand blender, and serve with walnuts and dill scattered over.
2. Split Pea and Ham Winter Soup
My Mum used to regularly make this soup at home when I was a child, typically between Christmas and New Year. I found this recipe on Kitchen Nostalgia – a blog reminding readers of old times when women were very skillful cooks and spent a lot of time in their kitchens. The author makes all these older recipes clearer by simplifying them to suit our 21st century modern lifestyles. This winter soup is adapted from a recipe in The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook written by Emily Ansara Baines.
Benefit for runners: Peas are naturally high in dietary fiber (which reduces risk of constipation and promotes blood sugar control) and protein (which promote recovery). The ham adds a bit of extra protein if you are a meat-eater.
- 2 cups cubed cooked ham
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 4 cups vegetable/chicken stock
- 6 cups water
- 3 cups dry split peas (green or yellow)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dry thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups carrots, cubed
- 1 cup celery root cubed, or 2 cups celery stalks
- 1 1/2 cup potato, cubed
Cook the ham first, and set aside to cool.
Add onions and the coconut oil to a pot and saute until translucent.
Add vegetable or chicken stock and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Then add split peas, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook for about 45 minutes or until split peas fall apart into mush.
Add carrots, celery, potatoes and ham and continue cooking until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
3. Spicy Butternut Squash Winter Soup
I could live on this delicious, spiced squash soup by Jamie Oliver from his cook book called Jamie at Home, it warms me up inside-out, thanks to the heat coming from the chillies.
Benefit for runners: Butternut squash boasts over four times the recommended daily value of vitamin A in just one serving, over half the recommended intake of vitamin C, and an impressive list of antioxidants. These properties make butternut squash a great immune-system booster to fight off the cold and flu bugs which many of us runners succomb to at this time of the year.
- Handful of fresh sage leaves
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
- ½ – 1 fresh red chilli , to taste, deseeded and finely chopped
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 kg butternut squash, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 litres of organic chicken or vegetable stock
- extra virgin olive oil
Put a saucepan on a medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them – you’ll use these for sprinkling over at the end.
Put the pan back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.
When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a blender and pulse until you have a smooth purée.
Serve with a few of your crispy sage leaves sprinkled on top.
4. Asparagus Winter Soup
In my opinion, the best way to eat asparagus is in a delightfully creamy soup! In the UK, asparagus is in season between April and July, so make sure to stock up on them, and then store in your freezer to make this winter soup.
Benefit for runners: One cup of asparagus spears supplies 115 percent of your daily recommended value for vitamin K, which is vital for bone health, also rich in potassium which is essential for the proper contraction of muscles. Eating at least five asparagus spears should provide the recommended daily intake for folic acid (which plays a very important role in the healthy formation of genetic material) – a definite bonus for pregnant runners!
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 350 g asparagus spear, stalks chopped, woody ends discarded, tips reserved
- 3 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- 700 ml vegetable stock
Steam the asparagus, until soft, but still has some crunch left in it. Put it aside to cool.
Add the shallots, asparagus stalks and garlic to a pan, and cook for 5-10 mins in the coconut oil, until softened but still bright. Stir through the spinach, pour over the stock, bring to the boil
Blitz everything with a blender until smooth. Season and add hot water to loosen if needed.
Pour into bowls and scatter the asparagus tips over each. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with sourdough bread, if you like.
5. Carrot and Ginger Winter Soup
I first tried this soup in the canteen at work, and I instantly fell in love with it. The kick from the ginger perfectly blends with the sweetness of the carrots and the coconut milk makes it delightfully creamy. The recipe is from The Barefoot Cook aka Amanda who is passionate about teaching people to reclaim the power of simple, nourishing cooking and lead happier, more harmonious lives.
Benefit for runners: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce joint pain so it’s great after a tough workout to tackle post-run ache.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups carrots, cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 4 cups of chicken/vegetable broth
- 2 cups organic coconut milk
Melt the coconut oil over medium high heat. Once melted, add the onion, ginger and salt and sauté for about 12 minutes or until brown and almost caramelized.
Add the carrots and sauté for about 15 minutes; they should be starting to brown, but you don’t want them to burn. If your pan gets too dry, add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan.
Add nutmeg, white pepper and coriander and sauté for a minute, mixing in well with all the carrots.
Add the chicken/vegetable broth and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
Puree in a blender until smooth. Thin to desired consistency if too thick for your liking by adding more broth.
What is your favourite winter fuel as a runner?