When I remove my poggies after a strenuous three hour kayaking session there’s nothing my hands, my stomach and my soul need more than to hold a bowl of steaming soup. It is something that can be eaten quickly either during one of the last picnics of the season on an island beach, back home after your excursion or even in your boat if you don’t feel like landing anywhere for your coffee break. Actually, soup is the perfect replacement for a cup of coffee when you exercise in the cold. All you need is a good thermos or a pot with a one-burner stove.
The best fast-food
In this era of quick but not necessarily nutritious meals on the go, soup can be considered the most ancient form of fast food. As early as 500 B.C., Greek street vendors were selling soup made of peas and lentils from corner stalls. Filling fast food, isn’t it? And conquering Roman soldiers returning home were greeted with generous portions of a thick mixture of broth, cereal, beef and vegetables served in pewter bowls… Actually, soup has been around since human beings learned how to boil water, along with roots, herbs and grains. In the 12th century, “soup” meant a large piece of bread on which piping hot broth made of meat, vegetables or wine was poured. People were “soaking the sop”, a word derived from Sanskrit that meant to be well fed. And well fed they were, just as we are today when we snack or dine on a bowl of soup.
Medicine for body and soul
According to many nutritionists, people who eat soup on a regular basis are more likely to meet the five-a-day vegetable portions recommended for optimal health than people who don’t. Especially soup made with stock rather than cream base, which adds too many calories and grams of fat. One cup of soup made with a vegetable base will provide 25 % of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, 10 % of most other vitamins and minerals and a good percentage of fibers. As for the essential proteins, it depends which amount of dry beans, meat or fish you include in your recipe. For a paddling day, you want to get at least 20 grams of protein with each meal.
Soup has also always been considered as a form of medicine for the body as well as for the soul and it was part of any serious doctor or apothecary’s arsenal up until the last Century. Whenever a mother brought her coughing child to the physician or an elderly patient showed signs of fever, soup made with chicken broth would be served up as the best possible magic potion. Ironically, modern science now shows that this ancient wisdom was based upon rock solid evidence. Today, researchers have proven that the chemical compounds found in chicken soup are very effective in fighting the flu and helping the body get rid of infections and toxins.
Perfect for the Global Village
Soup is also the most universal dish. Every culinary tradition carries many versions of this near-perfect dish. From Italian minestrone to Chinese Won Ton, from Portugese Caldo verde to French onion soup, from Mexican Posole to a Spanish Gaspacho, soup is an integral part of our Global Village. And because of its endless varieties, it allows a lot of creativity while still keeping it simple.
Today, there are many ways to make quick, nutritious, delicious soups that will not only fill you up, but warm and comfort you. Here’s some of my favorite recipes, specially adapted for a paddler’s needs.
Homemade instant cup of soup
For one 12 oz cup
Fill an insulated thermos with 1 cup of boiling water. Let rest 20-30 minutes. This prepares the thermos to keep the soup piping hot. Throw the water away. Place all the ingredients into the thermos, then add a cup of boiling water, mix well. Close the thermos bottle snugly. This soup will keep up to 6 hours. Excellent with crackers.
Oriental soup for two
Bring water to a boil. Add the rice vermicelli and simmer for three to five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the coriander, the sesame oil, the cashews and the miso paste (if you use vegetable broth, add it with the rice vermicelli). Turn the heat off. Dissolve the miso paste with some boiling water and pour into the noodle mixture. Garnish with coriander, sesame oil and crushed cashews. Serve immediately as a complete meal.
The simplest seafood chowder
(4 to 5 servings as a side dish, 2 to 3 as a main course)
In a saucepan, over medium heat, sauté onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until translucent. Add dry parsley and bell peppers, than pour in the water and the chicken broth cubes. Bring to a boil. Add 3 / 4 cup of the potato flakes and the milk. Simmer for a few minutes until it thickens. Add more potato flakes if you want a very thick chowder. Add salmon, shrimps, corn and heat through. Serve immediately.
In a saucepan, sauté dry leeks and onions for a few minutes. Add garlic, carrots, dry parsley, Italian seasoning, celery, green beans, dry tomatoes and cook over medium heat for a few more minutes. Add tomato paste and mix well. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil. Add macaroni, lower heat and cook until pasta are almost done but still al dente. Add white beans and heat through. Serve in large bowls with Parmesan cheese and toasted garlic bread for a complete meal.
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