Nutrition: Super soups

Three easy, nutritious recipes for your winter riding

It’s that time of year again. The nights are long, the days are cold and we’re starting to need extra energy and motivation to convince us to put bums on saddles.


A warming winter soup, packed full of essential nutrients to keep you toasty as well as bumping up your fuel levels should do the trick. Endurance athlete and author of Go Faster Foods Kate Percy says soups are a great way to boost both stamina and recovery.

“Thick hearty soups based on lentils or pulses and plenty of fresh vegetables, eaten with hunks of wholemeal crusty bread, will keep you sustained for longer and are ideal for endurance,” says Percy. “Whereas broths and lighter vegetable soups are fantastic for recovery and rehydration after your workout and a great alternative to a sports drink if you can’t face something sweet.”

Spiced lentil and tomato soup

As a pre-ride meal, this gently spiced soup will help you power through. Full of A, B and C vitamins, it’s a great source of magnesium and iron. Both tomatoes and lentils have a low glycaemic index, so it’ll help control blood sugar levels and provide steady energy.

Spiced lentil and tomato soup:
Paul Smith -
  • Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick celery (chopped)
  • 1 small dried chili
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 300g green/brown lentils 1tbsp balsamic vinegar 800g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • Freshly chopped coriander


  • Heat oil and sauté the onion and celery for a few minutes. Add bay leaf, dried chili and cumin and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add the lentils, vinegar, tomatoes, tomato purée and stock, and bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Season and serve with coriander.

Chickpea, sweet potato and spinach soup

This soup is particularly good for endurance. Chickpeas provide a virtually fat-free source of protein and carbohydrate and are high in minerals and fibre.

Chickpea, sweet potato and spinach soup:
Paul Smith -
  • Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (cubed)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2cm piece of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp dry-fried and crushed cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • 400g tinned chickpeas
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 litre vegetable/chicken stock 200g fresh spinach leaves


  • 1. Fry the onion for 2 minutes. Add sweet potato, garlic and ginger and fry 1 minute.
  • 2. Add cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard powder and cook for 30 seconds.
  • 3. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes and honey. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • 4. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • 5. Purée in a blender, season, and pour back into the saucepan.
  • 6. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 minute.

Watercress soup with crispy pancetta

This soup is perfect for post-exercise recovery and contains potassium for electrolyte replenishment.

Watercress soup with crispy panchetta:
Paul Smith -


  • Serves 4
  • 50g butter
  • 1 large leek (chopped)
  • 1 medium potato (diced) 180g watercress (roughly 2 packs or bunches)
  • 500ml milk
  • 450ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 rashers pancetta or thin streaky bacon
  • Crème fraiche and a grating of nutmeg to serve


  • 1. Sauté the leeks for 5 minutes.
  • 2. Add the potato and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Fry the pancetta until crisp.
  • 3. When potato is cooked, add watercress and 300ml milk, then simmer until the watercress has wilted.
  • 4. Allow to cool and purée in a blender. If the soup is too thick, add more milk.
  • 5. Serve in warmed soup bowls with crème fraiche, a grating of nutmeg and the pancetta.