I’m never one to miss an eating occasion, so when I started wild swimming 18 months ago, the appeal was not simply the revitalising plugged-into-the-mains-in-a-good-way endorphin hit to which all cold water swimmers become addicted. It was also the new occasion for eating that swimming created. There was the pre-swim breakfast – hearty, warming and packed with slow-release carbs; the biscuit tin of sweet somethings to share with fellow dippers after a group swim. And, my favourite, the full flask of deliciousness for after a solo swim when your fingers are numb but you can’t quite drag yourself away from the beauty of the view at the water’s edge.
I live about as far away from the sea as is possible in the UK, so my swimming is at a lake near Cirencester, unless I’m on holiday, which is almost always somewhere by the sea and most regularly in North Norfolk. Things can get rather wild on the Norfolk beaches, but the Cotswold lake is tranquil, a placid mirror of serenity amidst woods and shrubland. It is so composed there are even little benches in a sheltered spot at the entrance to the water – ideal for a post-swim drink and a ponder.
Now, you could take a simple flask of tea for this moment. But that would be an opportunity missed. Instead, I like to make something more nourishing for my flask and really make an occasion of it. Just five minutes sitting on the bench, looking at the reflections on the lake, watching the ducks, huddled around something tasty. It rounds things off perfectly.
Things can get rather wild on the Norfolk beaches, but the Cotswold lake is tranquil, a placid mirror of serenity amidst woods and shrubland. There are even little benches in a sheltered spot at the entrance to the water – ideal for a post-swim drink and a ponder.
A bit of spice to help thaw your toes. This soup is made especially hearty thanks to the beans, so take some bread for dunking and you could call it lunch. Just make sure you have a container that won’t stain!
Serves 3 and freezes well
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Toss the carrots in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and the cumin seeds. Arrange on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes until soft and charred at the edges.
Meanwhile, warm the other tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat, add the onion, curry powder, ginger and turmeric with a pinch of salt and sweat for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft but not browning.
Add the beans, juice and all, and the stock and simmer until the carrots are ready. At which point, add the carrots and whizz to a smooth, creamy soup. Adjust the seasoning as needed, then pour into your flask and head for the water.
If Nutella and espresso had a lovechild, this would be it. Warming and rich on the one hand, but with a late jolt of caffeine at the end that’s guaranteed to reach any numb fingers. You can use dairy milk here too, but I prefer hazelnut milk which just adds to the whole Nutella vibe.
Put the cocoa in a small saucepan and pour in half the espresso. Whisk to a thick paste then add the rest of the coffee. This helps prevent the cocoa clumping together. Add all the remaining ingredients, and warm over a gentle heat, whisking as you go. Once smooth and steaming hot, pour into a flask and set off on your adventure.