Beat the winter blues with a soothing bowl of Turmeric Vegetable Quinoa Soup. A colorful and fragrant soup bursting with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that will nourish your body – and your soul!
I know what you’re thinking… “Turmeric?? Isn’t that like soo 2016?”
This trendy yellow spice may have been all the rage in 2016, but that doesn’t mean it deserves to be shunned to the back of the pantry any time soon (especially with the impressive nutritional profile that it boasts). If you happen to still be in the dark about this bright yellow spice, then today’s your lucky day – prepare for a crash course in Turmeric 101…
Turmeric may sound exotic, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing the robust flavor of traditional Indian curry dishes, then you’re probably already familiar with the vibrant yellow spice. Despite being a recent addition to many mainstream American households, turmeric has remained a staple in Indian cuisine for thousands of years. Not to mention, its roles as a medicinal herb in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine date back as early as 700 BC, when it was commonly used to alleviate stomach pains. Talk about being ahead of the food trends!
Today, you’ll also find turmeric powder in the ingredient list of many “natural” products as an alternative to chemically-laden food dyes. But be warned – turmeric is used as a natural food dye for a reason! This spice stains VERY easily. I highly recommend that you avoid wearing nice clothes or using a wooden spoon when cooking with turmeric (unless of course, your favorite color happens to be mustard yellow – in which case, have at it).
Although turmeric may get all the glory, it’s really curcumin that’s responsible for the behind-the-scenes work. In fact, much of the research that has been done thus far to support the medicinal properties of turmeric has actually been conducted using curcumin, the main component of turmeric. Most of these studies have been conducted on mice and animals, so their applicability to the human population is still under investigation. However, such studies suggest that turmeric/curcumin may play a supporting role in preventing and/or managing a number of diseases and conditions, such as: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, studies have also shown that turmeric may exert beneficial effects on digestion and liver function.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates
Though the suggested health benefits of turmeric are vast, the spice is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s important to note that, in this context, “inflammation” does not necessarily refer to the visible inflammation that can be seen following acute injuries (such as a sprained ankle), but rather the underlying chronic systemic inflammation that is believed to contribute to many of the nation’s most prevalent chronic diseases. Reducing such inflammation may potentially help with preventing and/or prolonging the development of a number of prevalent morbidities, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
So is turmeric really the magical spice that it’s cracked up to be? The jury is still out. But in my opinion, you really have nothing to lose by incorporating this spice into your day-to-day cooking. Even if the perceived health benefits do not fully translate to humans, turmeric will still add amazing color and flavor to your dishes!
So now that we’ve got all of that fun scientific stuff covered, let’s talk SOUP (because, given the weather we’ve been experiencing lately, is there really any other option?)
But before we go any further, I need to ask a favor. Please don’t be intimidated by the semi-long ingredient list. At first glance, it may appear a little complex, but you will be AMAZED at just how easy (and affordable!) this soup is to make. The vast majority of the items listed are probably sitting in your pantry as we speak (hello spices!) or even hidden in the depths of your freezer (I’m looking at you, frozen veggies). See? This soup is practically sitting in your kitchen just begging to be put together.
Pro Tip: I like to buy some of my spices in bulk – this saves money, reduces waste, and decreases storage space. Check your local supermarket or health food store to see if this is an option. So far, I’ve found that Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme both offer a variety of spices in bulk!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp curry powder
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups frozen cauliflower
- 3 cups chopped kale (tough ribs removed)
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- optional toppings: chopped parsley, nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese, etc.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened (5-8 minutes). Add garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and curry powder and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add quinoa, broth, water, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add frozen cauliflower and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in chopped kale and red pepper flakes and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf, season with additional salt and pepper if desired, garnish with optional toppings and serve.
- Makes approximately 10 cups of soup.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated for 4-5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
I want to know… what’s your favorite way to use turmeric?!