When it comes to athletes, proper fueling through food and adequate hydration are top priorities. A comfort food that is often overlooked but can provide both fuel and hydration is soup. Soup is extremely versatile as well and can be served hot or cold, depending on the weather outside. It’s not just for winter or cold, rainy nights.
Not all soups are created equally though. Many of the canned soups you find on grocery store shelves include MSG and other processed ingredients and WAY too much sodium. Some of the better brands of soup that you can buy include Amy’s Organic Soups and Pacific brand soups.
Speaking of sodium having the proper amount of sodium in your diet is beneficial, especially for soccer players that run and sweat a lot. Americans tend to take in around 3,400 milligrams of sodium/day most likely due to our S.A.D (Standard American Diet), which includes processed foods and meats. We technically need around 500 milligrams/day for our bodies to function properly but for athletes, that amount needs to be higher. 2,300 milligrams is a good start (unless you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure) or around one teaspoon/day but that amount could increase with hot weather and excessive sweating. There is a way to measure fluid and sodium (Na) losses during exercise through sweat testing. All athletes are different so individualizing fluid and electrolyte replenishment is advantageous.
Eating whole foods and salting them with a sea salt or Himalayan salt is the best way to consume sodium through diet. Therefore, it makes sense that making your own soups at home is the ideal way for consuming soup and a healthy dose of sodium. With all of the options of bone broths available now, you can also increase the nutritional value of your soup using these types of ingredients. It’s a simple way to sneak in more veggies as well! Make soup in a crock-pot or Insta-pot for a “fix it and forget it” meal. You can even put soup in a thermos for traveling ease. Some of my favorite soups are “souper” simple to make! Tomato Bisque using Greek yogurt, Coconut Chicken soup with rice or rice noodles, and Chinese Chicken soup with rice are three of my favorites! Below is a recipe you can try using a rotisserie chicken or any chicken you have on hand, eggs, broth and a few other ingredients.
Chinese Chicken & Rice Soup
- 4 large eggs (preferably free range/organic)
- 2 Tbs. avocado oil (or stir fry type oil)
- 2 large tomatoes, halved and thinly slices (can substitute diced canned tomatoes)
- 4 cups chicken broth/bone broth
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil
- 2 Tsp. liquid aminos (soy sauce alternative)
- 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed
- 4 cups baby spinach (organic)
- 1.5 cups cooked rice (brown, white, or wild)
- Salt & pepper to taste
1). Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat. Add the eggs and cook, undisturbed until bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is set, about 1 minute.
2). Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring gently to break up the eggs, until the tomatoes begin to soften (2-3 minutes). Add the chicken broth, 3 cups water, the scallions, sesame oil, liquid aminos, and 1.5 tsp salt. Partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
3). Stir in chicken, spinach, and rice (or leave rice out and scoop in individual bowls) and warm through. Season the soup with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Serves 4: Per serving; Calories-417, Fat-22 g, Cholesterol-297 mg, Sodium-1,282 mg, Carbohydrates-27 g, Fiber-3 g, Protein-29 g
Amy Dirks, RDN, LD, CSCS, CPT
MLS Sporting KC Dietitian-Nutritionist