Many of us lead busy lives and it can be a struggle to cram in work, training, family and social events as well as cooking healthy and nutritious food. Thankfully, there are dishes out there which fit perfectly into your life, without taking up extra time or leaving you resorting to the ready-meal section.
Homemade soup is a brilliant dish - my favourite - because it allows you to tailor each recipe to your own tastes, it's easy to make and you can cook in bulk to secure your lunches for days. However, 'diet' and 'low calorie' versions mean it's is often overlooked as a filling meal, and gets downgraded to "only-when-your-sick" food. That doesn't need to be the case - a soup with the right ingredients can provide you with tons of vitamins AND plenty of energy.
Here's a round-up of the best soup recipes to get you started...
Split Pea Soup
Packed full of fibre and protein, this soup is a signature classic in many cultures. It's really easy to make and it'll keep you feeling fuller for longer thanks to slow releasing energy.
You'll need roughly 200g of yellow split peas, 1 litre of water, 2 peeled and chopped carrots, 1 chopped celery stick and one large chopped onion.
Melt a little butter in a large pan, and add the onions, carrots and celery. Warm them up for 6 - 8 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the peas and water and bring to the boil before lowering the heat to a simmer. Leave the pan simmering for roughly an hour until vegetables are soft and peas begin to split. Then season to taste.
You can also choose to add ham or bacon for extra flavour, and if you prefer to puree the mix for a smoother texture, this can be done after cooking.
Chicken Noodle Soup
This is a childhood favourite of mine, and still a favourite to this day. It has everything you need, chicken for protein, noodles for carbs and the healthy vegetables for vitamins and essential energy.
You'll need a 1 litre of well mixed chicken stock, a chopped onion, a peeled and chopped carrot and a chopped celery stick. Bring these to the boil, then let them simmer in a large pan for a few minutes.
Chop and cook 2 chicken breasts, and add to the saucepan along with roughly 200g of dried noodles. Leave to simmer for a further 10 mins and serve.
Leek and Potato Soup
Another hearty classic dish is leek and potato soup. It's easy to make and great to store for multiple meals.
You'll need 2 of everything for this one: 2 chopped and peeled carrots, 2 celery sticks, 2 peeled garlic cloves and 2 onions. Along with 400g of peeled and cut potatoes (about 1cm cubes), 400g of leeks and chicken stock.
Add all the chopped ingredients, except the potatoes, to an oiled pan and heat for 10 minutes until softened. Mix the chicken stock with 1.5l of boiling water and add to the vegetables, along with the potatoes. Stir and leave to simmer for roughly 10 - 15mins. If you wish to puree it, give it a whizz in a blender, or leave it chunky.
Spicy Lentil an Chickpea soup
To really stoke a fire in your belly, this spicy lentil recipe will surely keep you warm while replenishing your energy stores.
You'll need: 1 chopped red onion, 150g of red split lentils, 400g tinned chopped tomatoes, 200g of carton chickpeas, 1L of vegetable stock, and some cumin seed and chilli flakes.
Heat up a saucepan with the 2tsp of cumin, and a pinch of chilli flakes until they start to smell amazing, about a minute or so. Next, add 1tbsp of oil and the chopped onion and leave to cook for a few minutes. Stir in the lentils, stock and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil before leaving it to simmer for 15 mins, until everything is soft.
If you want to puree, now would be the time to whizz the ingredients with a hand-held blender. Then add the chickpeas and heat gently. Now it's ready for seasoning, and serving.
For some extra taste, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt before serving.
Broccoli and Stilton Soup
Another soup favourite to make it to our list is Broccoli and Stilton soup. You don't need many ingredients, and it's quick to make, which makes it perfect for those days when you just don't have time to go the whole hog on a big meal.
You'll need: 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped celery stick, 1 chopped leek, 1 cubed potato, 1l of chicken stock, 1 chopped broccoli head and 140g of Stilton.
Heat 2tbsp of oil in a large pan and add the chopped onions, cook until soft. Add the leek, potato, celery and some butter and allow to cook with the lid on the pan for roughly 5 mins.
Pour in the stock and continue to cook for another 10 - 15 mins before adding the broccoli, and cooking for 5 more minutes. Purée the mix with a hand-held blender, or transfer to a blender for a smooth consistency. Finally add the Stilton and allow to melt. Season with salt and pepper, and you're done!
Soup is great for a post-training meal. Easy to store, and good fun to experiment with. Add as much/little seasoning as you like and create your own favourites.
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