Last Sunday saw me running one of my favourite races – the hilly and tough Ras Cors Caron, or Tregaron Half Marathon. The challenging hilliness of parts of the course was added to this year by frequent short and sharp hailstone showers and even a few flurries of snow, which had me wishing that I hadn’t opted for shorts on what was a training run (I was running it at marathon effort as part of my build up towards Newport Marathon at the end of April).
The 2 other things that the race is renowned for are the wooly hat awarded to finishers (much needed and a different colour every year) and the equally welcome bowl of cawl, served up with bread and a chunk of cheese after the race. Cawl is a traditional chunky Welsh soup (it translates literally as ‘soup’), which has numerous regional and seasonal variations. It sometimes seems that almost every family has it’s own recipe! Versions abound – made with lamb, with beef, or with ham. Some versions have parsnips added, some celery, some both.
I would say that if you want to make a lamb version, I would cook the lamb as in stage 4 below a day in advance, then chill overnight so that you can easily remove the solidified fat before continuing.
My version below uses trimmed lean braising beef, so this isn’t an issue. I also don’t add parsnips to my version, as I find them too sweet – the carrots add enough sweetness for my taste – but I am certain that others will be adamant that parsnips are a MUST! As I say, there are almost as many versions as there are families in Wales, or at least it sometimes feels that way!
Any fellow Welsh runners out there who have their own version? Have you made the version below? Let me know in the comments!
Anyway, after this year’s race in freezing conditions, the cawl was especially welcome! Firstly, for its warmth (!), but also for its perfect post long-run nutritional profile. The beef offers a valuable protein source, along with iron, vitamin B12, niacin and zinc. The swede (rutabaga), potatoes and parsnips also offer a good carb recharge to refuel those hill-depleted muscles. The optional traditional accompaniments of cheese and bread also offer extra protein and carbs to help with post-race recovery. The leeks also offer a valuable source of potassium to help restore those electrolytes lost in the race. This recipe also uses a good amount of parsley, which is a useful source of vitamin C and more iron.
It was probably a mixture of tiredness, relief from the cold and hunger, but as I ate the welcome bowl of cawl after this year’s Tregaron race, I could swear that I could feel it doing me good as I ate it! 🙂
Give it a go and let me know if you can feel the cawl goodness flood through you!
Traditional Welsh Cawl
A traditional meat and vegetable soup. This version uses beef, leeks, carrots, swede and potato.
- 800 g braising Steak*
- 4 large carrots
- 400 g swede (rutabaga)
- 3 large leeks (green and white parts)
- 400 g new potatoes
- 1 bunch parsley chopped
- 4 pints water
- ground black pepper
Halve the leeks lengthways, discard any tough outer layers, slice and wash well (leeks can hide quite a lot of dirt)
Trim the meat and cut into bite-size cubes.
Dice the carrots and swede. Cut the potatoes into halves/ quarters, depending on their size.
Place the beef in a large pan with 4 pints of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours. Skim off any scum which develops with a slotted spoon.
Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots and swede (rutabaga). Return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 25 minutes. Check the beef for tenderness.
Add the parsley and season with pepper to taste. Simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.
Traditionally served with bread and cheese. A nice seeded wholemeal and a chunk of crumbly Caerphilly or a mature Cheddar would be perfect.
Use MyFitnessPal? The link to log this recipe is here