What's Cool In Road Cycling

Eat To Compete: It’s Soup Time!

Soup, on many levels, is one of the best things to eat this time of year. It’s warm, it’s a great way to stay full without over-eating (when reduced intensity and mileage means a need for far fewer calories than during peak season) and they can be full of vitamin and mineral-rich vegetables. They can also taste great – like this Butternut Squash, Chorizo, and Black Bean Soup.

– Recipe & Photos by Casey Weaver –

As I spun back down the coast last Sunday afternoon in near-perfect fall weather, I could not help but think that things were pretty good. With all that has gone on here over the last few weeks, what has turned the roadways of Los Angeles into a Powder Keg of pre-WWI proportions, knowing that I’ve got the opportunity to live a healthy life, get out on a bike, and come home to a warm meal is just about good enough for me.

For all of you just thinking to yourself “There’s no fall in Southern California,” those of us who ride our bikes here year round can attest that though subtle, it borders on magical. From late September to early November it looks like this—the strangely warm but cooling air; a big, low-setting sun; and light offshore winds that comb a glassed-off shoreline while stretching coastal clouds all work together to create picture perfect sunsets that’ll bring your girlfriend to tears. Just add to that some cross racing on the beach and a little autumn produce—that’s our fall. It’s not your typical fiery reds and oranges, but it’s not half bad.

I Think I’ll Make Me Some Homemade Soup…

2 average sized butternut squash (opt for ones with long necks = more squash)
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
Ѕ cup chorizo (can substitute Soy-Rizo), or other spicy sausage
1 large (or two medium) red onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
3 T fresh sage, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
black pepper to taste

1 lime (or lemon), cut into wedges
mild Feta cheese
Cayenne pepper and paprika

One of my favorite bases for a super soup is butternut squash, in my mind the quintessential fall food. It is incredibly high in Vitamin A, very high in Vitamin C, and has respectable amounts of micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, folate, and Vitamin B6. Not to mention it has a great flavor and texture as a soup base.

To start
For the squash, cut off the stem, halve lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. I find that when peeling butternut squash, it’s easiest to do so when they are halved. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and discard. Once the two halves are peeled, cut the squash into 1-1.5 inch cubes. Either steam or boil the cubes until very soft. Once cooked, set aside.

It’s likely you noticed that word, glaring in this recipe’s title like a chain-mark on a freshly shaven calf – chorizo. When it comes to using a relatively rich ingredient like chorizo, a little goes a long way. It’s used in the same way you might use bacon in a Cobb salad—just enough to provide some great flavor, though not so much that it bogs down the entire dish. Deprivation only lasts so long, though moderation is (hopefully) controllable. That and it puts a great twist on what might be some pretty tired fall, or possibly Thanksgiving flavors (Lord knows, if I could get my hands on our family’s Thanksgiving menu, I would give it some “twists” that would have my grandmother crying out to Alice Waters in the middle of the night).

Sautй the chorizo in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook for about four to five minutes, stirring often, until the sausage is entirely broken apart. Once cooked, remove from the skillet and set aside, reserving the drippings.

Heat the drippings over a medium-high flame, adding more olive oil if necessary, then add the garlic and onion. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are beginning to turn translucent; about seven minutes. Transfer the cooked squash, garlic, and onions to a blender or food processor. Process until very smooth, adding water to facilitate blending if necessary (you will likely have to do this in batches).

Transfer the blended squash mixture to a large pot and add the chicken stock, stirring to combine. Add the cooked chorizo, black beans, and sage, and season liberally with black pepper. Bring the entire soup over low heat and simmer until ready to serve.

To serve, top each bowl with a few fresh sage leaves, fresh feta cheese, squeeze with the juice of a lime wedge, and for a little extra heat, a few dashes of some cayenne pepper or paprika.

We might yet be a few weeks away from the American day of giving thanks, though American or not, if you’ve got two legs you can spin round and round, are able to put some good food on the table, and have a friend or two to enjoy it with, I would say it’s never too early. With soup it’s easy, make a huge pot and round up a crew of eaters. With cyclists you should have no problem.

About The Author:
Casey grew up in the kitchen inspired by his mom and grandmother, who ran the catering and cooking instruction company, Cooking in the Canyon, in Brentwood, Ca. He received his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from UCLA, currently races for the NOW-MS elite amateur cycling team.

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