When it’s made with the right ingredients, soup provides carbs, protein and antioxidants, supporting your muscles like no other meal. Plus, a 2007 study by Penn State University in the US showed that eating a bowl of soup before a meal can curb appetite and reduce your overall calorie intake by 20 per cent compared with eating no soup at all. Moreover, a steaming bowl can make you feel fuller for longer compared with solid food, as the soup takes more time to move from the stomach. Many runners think they need hours to cook a decent soup, but that isn’t true. You can make a delicious meal with whatever is in your kitchen, and have it ready in 30 minutes. Create your own by following these five steps, choosing among the fresh, frozen and leftover ingredients you have to hand from the lists.
1. Cook the aromatics
These vegetables, herbs and spices add flavour and aroma. In a large saucepan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Add 250g of diced veg and two tablespoons of dried herbs and spices; fry for five minutes.
Souper choices: Onion, garlic, celery, carrots; dried sage, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary,
cumin, cinnamon, chilli powder.
Liquid assets: These add anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight post-run soreness.
Quick tip: Add fresh herbs at the end of cooking to prevent flavour loss.
2. Pour in the liquid
Add one to two litres of warmed liquid (heating it speeds up cooking). Use one type of liquid or
a mix for more complex flavours.
Souper choices: Vegetable, chicken, beef or fish stock; tomato puree, tomato juice; beer or wine (up to a quarter of the total liquid).
Liquid assets: Liquids keep you hydrated in the winter and relieve congestion.
Quick tip: Buy condensed stock, as it takes up less storage space.
3. Add vegetables
Aim for 750g to 1kg, and cut them into bite-size pieces. Cook for five to 15 minutes (soft or pre-cooked veggies need less time; raw, hard vegetables need longer).
Souper choices: Curly kale, carrots, pak choi, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash,
broccoli, sweet potatoes.
Liquid assets: Veggies pack antioxidant vitamins and runner-friendly minerals.
Quick tip: Add greens during the last five minutes to prevent overcooking.
4. Add protein
Use 400g of cooked meat or fish, or a can of beans for a veggie protein source.
Souper choices: Beans (any kind), lentils; cooked chicken, beef, fish, prawns; tofu, edamame.
Liquid assets: Lean protein repairs muscles and provides iron – a mineral many runners lack.
Quick tip: Keep tins of fish or a packet of cooked chicken to hand.
5. Toss in carbs
Add 450g of pre-cooked carbs and heat through for five minutes.
Souper choices: Cooked wholegrains (brown, black or wild rice, quinoa and barley); wholewheat pasta; potatoes.
Liquid assets: Carbohyrates restock energy stores and add B vitamins, which are crucial for energy metabolism.
Quick tip: Small pasta such as macaroni works best in soup.