Spicy, Lemony, Kill-that-Cold Soup

In many cultures, food IS medicine. This is no more true than for Chinese or Indians, I think. It goes beyond our “chicken soup is penicillin” mantra. There are particular foods to eat when ill in a specific way. Yin and Yang out of balance may require additional foods of one variety or another, for example. Aryuveda is an ancient method of achieving optimal health balancing your intake of certain foods, omitting others in alignment with your constitution. Whether you subscribe to these beliefs, or not, almost no one would argue the power of food to comfort and to heal. Our bodies will often tell us what they need, but we’re often too caught up in the fray to listen. It takes work to listen.

For the past few days I’ve been soldiering on with a feeling that a cold was imminent. You know that warm-almost-itchy feeling in the nose and eyes that makes you go, “ruh-roh”? I’ve been battling it with hot water infused with fresh organic ginger slices, lemon and honey. Vitamin C tablets and EmergenC packets.

Today I got a message from a Facebook friend to drink Turmeric tea. Turmeric is a powerful anti inflammatory and something more of us could pay some attention to. It got me thinking of soup.

Bright yellow soup.


On Turmeric

  • a rhizome - turmeric is a member of the ginger family. You may see it in Indian grocers in the root form, looking like mini-ginger.
  • common in Indian (“haldi”) and in Thai, West Indian cuisines.
  • gives the saffron yellow color to curry powders. Will turn red in alkaline environment, yellow in acidic; this property has been exploited by early chemists and to dye fabrics.
  • used in weddings to anoint brides' faces, to dye strings to symbolically join the couple.
  • connotes the sun and divine blessings. Refrain from turmeric during mourning.
  • a poultice of turmeric paste will reduce inflammation (but also turn your skin and clothes yellow!)
  • name derives from French “terre-merité” good earth- it has an earthy quality that gives a base to other spices in curries, in paste form it looks like ochre used by painter
  • in addition to being anti-inflammatory, it’s being studied for anti-aging and memory enhancing properties.

Lucky for us, I’m a huge fan of Indian spices and food and have my own Indian spice box chock full of goodies. A “masala dabba” is a cool tin, usually round with little canisters of the most used spices, dried herbs, powders.

Me? I had an old Priority Mail box, taped up and covered. Recently, in a fit of pantry re-organizing inspiration, I found an old stacking plastic bin that was a little bigger and now we have a very classy masala dabba. (Hey, at least I’m repurposing something in a good way and I can now find my Indian spices and ingredients in one spot!)

I’ve had turmeric on my mind all morning now, with the soup coming together even as I tried to clear my mind through yoga (sniffle, sniffle, grunt, breathe, Puck rolling his head in my upturned palm...) breathe in, notice the slight pause, exhale. “I’ve got some masoor dal...” Inhale, pause, exhale, “maybe some spinach in the freezer, or saute some kale with mustard seeds, oh and leftover rice...”


Spicy, Lemony, Kill-that-Cold Soup

For the goals at hand, I want to have good amounts of warming spices, heat and vitamins. Turmeric will of course, star. Masoor dal and maybe some root veg and greens, lemon.

Notes on ingredients, tools: Masoor dal are salmon colored lentils you can find in Indian grocers and sometimes Indian/Asian sections of larger general grocery stores. They’re easy to digest and break down in soup giving you a protein boost and nice texture, somewhat like potato soup.

I use a stick blender to smooth the whole thing down, it would be fine without this step, too. A thick, warming soup was what I was in the mood for today so blended was my choice.

Vegan/Veg/Neither: This is a flexible template - you may make it dairy free or add some yogurt at the end. The greens are beautiful and health addition. Choose kale or spinach or chard. Frozen is fine but I like wilting the fresh kale then adding it at the end. This soup can be completely vegan if you substitute water or veg stock for the chicken I used and omit dairy (if you’re fighting a cold, you’d want to do that anyway.)



  • 1 C masoor dal
  • 1 large carrot, organic, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, organic, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large onion, organic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small organic apple (I had half a granny smith leftover from baking muffins. It was large so half was fine here.) Scrub, core, chop.
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, mashed (mine were small so I used six)
  • 1 thumb sized knob of ginger, minced
  • 2-3 small green chiles, chopped
  • 1 TBSP turmeric
  • 1 tsp each: coriander seed, fennel, mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, cumin seed
  • 1 C frozen spinach or sauteed fresh green of your choice (kale, chard)
  • Juice of 2-3 lemons (about 3/4 C)
  • about 6-7 C of water, vegetable or chicken stock or a combination
  • salt to taste

Optional garnishes:

  • fresh cilantro chopped to garnish
  • dollop of yogurt or coconut milk (optional, I used some coconut milk plain yogurt)
  • can add leftover cooked rice, or grains


If using fresh greens, you’ll want to wilt them before adding to soup in its final stages. I used to handfuls of curly kale.

In a medium saute pan, toast coriander, fennel and mustard seeds in a couple teaspoons of neutral oil until the mustard seeds begin to pop like tiny popcorn. Add the washed and torn greens cover and remove from heat. After a few minutes, toss with tongs and cover again to evenly wilt.

If using frozen spinach simply place the desired amount in a bowl to let it begin to defrost while you assemble the soup.

Begin the soup.

  1. Wash and chop all vegetables.
  2. Measure the spices
  3. Juice your lemons
  4. Mash and mince garlic, ginger and chiles.
  5. In a few glugs of neutral oil or ghee, toast your spices (coriander, fennel, mustard, cumin), on medium hight heat.
  6. Then add the carrot, parsnip, apple, onion. Saute until they begin to soften, add ginger, garlic, chiles.
  7. After a few minutes add turmeric, black pepper, water/stock, and dal. Place a lid, lower the heat to medium and let simmer.
  8. Give a stir about ten minutes in to ensure things are not sticking on the bottom. Replace lid and let simmer until all veg are soft, dal will have begun breaking down.
  9. You may use a stick blender, or an old fashioned potato masher or blend in a blender or food processor to smooth it out. You could even just mash the veg with a large fork or spoon.
  10. Add chopped greens. Taste. Add Lemon juice.
  11. Taste add salt if needed.


Place a small scoop of leftover rice/grains if using, warmed or brought to room temp. Ladle soup around it.

Optional garnish; add a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro, unless you’re one of those.

spicy soup collage

Taking Stock: Karwendel Soup

Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup, Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don’t forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series


Karwendel Soup is one of those recipes floating around the internet - almost exactly the same version - everywhere. I was handed a recipe (the same) but it was hand-written on an index card (remember those?) by Norma Jean. Norma was a woman I used to work with at a liquor store/wine shop in college. She was a sweet woman who doted on her little dog "Cognac". I was delighted to receive a set of vinyl, nearly untouched, from Norma, her son had died young and tragically, and she'd come across these albums and didn't know what else to do with them. They included some Beatles as I recall. Everyone who ever saw them gasped, then fondled them carefully "Where did you find THESE?" Unfortunately, those are now long gone, given up to an old boyfriend's attic when the argument over them was no longer worth pursuing.

I did keep this recipe, however and I think fondly of sweet Norma every time I enjoy this soup. I hope you'll enjoy it, maybe put on some Beatles for dinner music.

Karwendel Soup

This hearty stew comes from Austria. The original recipe as shared with me called for basil. I always thought other spices might be more Austrian, so I replaced the basil with thyme, sage and paprika each of which appear in other recipes from the region.


  • 3 oz diced lean bacon
  • 3/4 lb. kielbasa sliced 3/4"
  • 1 C finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped carrots
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 16 oz whole peeled or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • 1 C lentils rinsed
  • s &p, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp each thyme, sage, paprika
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1 lg bay leaf
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped parsley
  • Mustard


  1. Cook bacon til golden, but not crisp. Remove to a plate, drain all but 1 TBSP fat.
  2. Brown sausages. Remove to plate, skim off fat.
  3. Sauté veggies, deglaze with wine,
  4. Add tomatoes, water, lentils.
  5. Stir in bacon, sausage, spices.
  6. Cover simmer about one hour, until lentils are tender.
  7. Check midway, add more water or stock if needed.
  8. Ladle soup into shallow bowls, dot sausage with mustard, sprinkle with parsley.


Serve with crusty bread, lightly dressed bitter greens for a nice hearty winter's dinner.

Karwendel soup

Taking Stock: Sze's Magic Mineral Broth (AKA Antivirus Soup)

Sometimes even smart people make stupid mistakes, like opening a link you should have trashed immediately. Some days your health is failing. Some days, it can be worse than that. When you're in need of healing - either emotionally, or physically - making a giant pot of this "Magic Mineral Broth" is just what the doctor ordered.

My friend Maggie calls good, homemade food "food that hugs you back" - I think this soup fits the bill.

Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon.

These words of wisdom from a Japanese poet hang on my fridge as a reminder that even in our bleakest moments, we can find goodness, beauty.

We often find it difficult to forgive ourselves, even when we can forgive others. And by "we", I mean "me" of course. There's almost nothing I detest more than being reminded of my own imperfection. But why should that be so? If I were counseling a good friend, I would implore her to judge herself less harshly. Making mistakes only makes us human - what is the harm in that? Well the other day when I opened an email I should have known immediately to trash -- I felt like such an idiot! But I return, once again, to the healing power of food.

Let's try to start a new healthy habit. This is what New Years are all about, after all.

Let us try to judge ourselves less often, and less harshly; to look for ways to heal and nourish, rather than scold and disparage. When we make mistakes, let's learn from them, move through them, and put them in the rearview mirror. After all, you cannot jump those hurdles that are already behind you.

  • Trusted the wrong person? Okay. Remember trust is a good thing. Try to keep from shutting down.
  • Made a bad decision? Okay, don't make the same mistake again. Experience is the best teacher.
  • Clicked on a link in an email when you know better - let it create patience for the next time you are ready to scold your mother, or yourself, for doing so.
  • Got a seriously scary diagnosis? Learn what you can about healing and nourishing.

Yes. I did all of these things. And I've been through them with others.

Antivirus Soup - Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth

So here's the good news: no virus or malware detected from that link I shouldn't have clicked. And I now have two free apps  to help keep the Mac clean.

While I was running scans (and scans and scans) I made a giant batch of Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth. The vegetable stock is loaded with good vitamins and minerals, lots of flavor and umami. I discovered it, and Rebecca, when I was caring for my father-in-law Sze who was then just diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. We needed healthy food he could eat and tolerate while undergoing the harsh treatment.

He is now passed the five year mark and cancer-free. I shared the story at his 70th birthday of discovering Rebecca and all her help, going above and beyond for the panicked stranger on the line (me) asking for any and all help to fight this battle with Sze. She even found us cancer resources in Chinese. I got her book, One Bite at a Time, a special gift for those going through Chemotherapy and Radiation, full of delicious health-restoring foods.

And this magic broth is in my regular rotation. Make a batch when your computer is, ahem, otherwise occupied. Or when you've gotten bad news or had a rough day. Make it for a friend who's down or ill. Enjoy the soothing aromas wafting up from the stock pot. Enjoy a mug of the broth, as I did this recent day while repeating the mantra "never click on suspicious links."

Strain the stock, either simply through a colander or using cheesecloth if you want a really clear stock. Portion into freezer containers and large silicone ice cube trays (see below). Store some in fridge to enjoy in the week, then freeze the rest for future grains, soups, beans, sauces. Think of your magic mineral broth as a supply of nourish yourself goodness for the next time you need food that hugs you back.

vegetables soup

Sze's Magic Mineral Broth

A little faith, a little patience, the value of friends to learn from, gratitude for those who wish to learn from us, for those who accept our nourishment, our friendship, our forgiveness -- all from a humble pot of soup.


  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, white and green, trimmed, washed, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch of celery incl heart, washed trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 unpeeled sweet potatoes (some combo of garnet yam, Japanese sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes)
  • 5 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1  8" strip of Kombu
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 dried chiles
  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 qts water
  • Freezer scraps - mushroom, parsley stems, leek tops from the soup scrap freezer bag



  1. Scrub, rinse, chop all potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks
  2. Place, along with garlic and spices, in a large 12 Qt stock pot, with water to cover, up to two inches from rim of pot.
  3. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer, uncovered at least two hours. Check water level and keep vegetables covered.
  4. Broth will develop deep caramel color and rich aroma.
  5. Strain then season lightly with salt and pepper. Let cool then refrigerate (5-7 days) and freeze (4 months) to use as needed.


But first, enjoy a steaming mug of magic, antivirus soup.

soup collage


Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup, Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don’t forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series

Curried Kuri Bisque - Comfort in a Bowl

Delicious and oh-so-healthy, this is my new favorite fall soup. I developed this for a private cooking client who wants to eat healthier, practice knife skills and learn techniques to develop flavors without meat. It can be a meal in itself or a nice starter (Thanksgiving perhaps?) served in small bowls or coffee cups. Kuri squash, dal

Curried Kuri Bisque

While “bisque” is traditionally seafood stock and cream-based, this warming, comforting soup is vegetarian (no meat) and vegan (replacing milk with soy, no animal products). But let's not talk about what it doesn't have - let's talk about what it DOES have. Taking advantage of early fall vegetables, this bisque is loaded with vitamins and minerals (Vitamin E, Alpha Tocopherol, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus).

  • With the addition of sweet potato, carrot and dal, it’s also a great source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
  • By adding masoor dal, a salmon colored lentil that breaks down in cooking, you increase fiber and iron as well as boosting the protein of the soup, while adding no saturated fat.
  • With the deep roasted flavors and the spices, it also has lots of flavor.


  • 1 small kuri squash/pumpkin (can substitute butternut squash)
  • 3/4 C canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 C masoor dal
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh young ginger
  • 1/2 c minced onion
  • oil (neutral such as canola)
  • Chinese Five Spice powder (optional)
  • soy butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • Veggie stock or water
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 C soy milk


Preheat oven to 375.

  1. Cut kuri squash in half, scoop out seeds (reserve for roasting)
  2. Scrub carrots, chop in 1/2 chunks
  3. Peel sweet potato, cube
  4. Drizzle scant oil on carrots, sweet potato. Rub a tiny bit of Earth Balance soy butter (or oil) in squash. Sprinkle with Chinese Five Spice.
  5. Roast veggies in 375 oven. Roasting helps develop an additional flavor in this vegan soup. Veggies could also be steamed or microwaved, but roasting helps deepen flavors.
  6. Sweat onion in a drizzle of neutral oil till just starting to brown, add ginger, pinch of salt, then add 1/2 tsp tomato paste, pumpkin puree.
  7. Deglaze with 3 C veggie stock (veg stock and water) add dal, diced apple.
  8. When roasted veg are mostly done, (piercing the larger chunks of carrot w/ knife meets little resistance) add to soup.
  9. Blend spices and soy milk with a fork then add to soup.
  10. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't burn. Add water as necessary to reach desired consistency. When vegetables and dal are all tender, use stick blender to purée soup.


Spices that love pumpkin:

If curry and cumin are not your cup of tea, you could omit them, adding only cardamom, coriander and cinnamon. I might add more onion and ginger to give the soup some kick in that case.

  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • 1/4 tsp cumin- coriander blend
  • 1/4 tsp cumin - optional, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 C soy milk

Option garnish: while the oven is still hot, toss the seeds of the squash with salt and Five Spice, toast them till just golden and crisp. If you can resist nibbling them, you should have enough to garnish a few bowls.

Curried Kuri Bisque


If you love soups like I do, you'll enjoy my Taking Stock series which covers all sorts of soups and stews, like Taking Stock: Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare.

January is National Soup Month. Tuesday's S/O/L/E Food Day. I bring you: Carrot Soup

  In honor of January being National Soup Month -- and it being S/O/L/E Food Tuesday; I bring you five soups.

On the menu today:

  1. Carrot Soup;
  2. Tuscan Tomato Soup;
  3. Parsnip and Pear Soup;
  4. Potato Leek Soup; and
  5. Mulligatawny.

First: Our star: Chantenay Carrot Soup

I first had this Carrot Soup at my mother’s house. It is delicious, stores well, and is very satisfying. I made it with Chantenay Carrots (click the link to read more about them) one summer when they were available at the Farmer’s Market or Savenor’s, forget which. Chantenays are heirloom varietal that are so naturally sweet, you would swear someone added sugar to them when you taste them cooked. Here is a seed link if someone wants to grow some for me!

organic red carrots













Random Carrot and Soup Trivia:

  • Carrots are native to Afghanistan where they originally were cultivated and grown in every color but orange.
  • For an interesting carrot dressing see Mark Vogel's recipe here. Mark writes the Food for Thought column on Chef James Ehler's site (LDG approved!). The chefs and the site share encyclopedic knowledge of food.
  • Orange carrots came later, probably developed by the Dutch.
  • Purple carrots (find them in summer at the farmer’s market near you) are a source of anthocyanins which the orange ones are not. Black foods are increasingly recognized as the new superfoods.
  • Did you know chicken soup is said to have an amino acid that is similar to a drug used to treat respiratory infections?
  • Parsnip soup with pears. Parsnips are an underappreciated vegetable that people often mistake for carrots. Here is a recipe for a parsnip soup with pears. Intriguing don't you think?



  • Don't forget our early S/O/L/E Food Tuesday posts was a Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe from our friend Vivianne at Food & Style.
  • Potato Leek Soup.
  • Carrots (sliced like coins for prosperity) were part of my New Year’s Dinner - I pan roast-steamed them with a little butter, a sprinkle of sugar since I was using regular carrots, then added a touch of cream to finish them and sprinkled with chervil. Oh and they go really well with parsnips, which I also included in this New Year’s rendition.
  • If you're a juicer- try this combo: carrot, green apple, beet, ginger. Vitality in a glass. If you'd fed it to Ponce de Leon and told him it was the fountain of youth, he'd have believed you. Ah but then where would Florida be now, you ask....?

More on organic versus conventional:

  • Between 2000 and 2005, the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed the results of nearly 51,000 tests for residues on produce. The "dirty dozen" - most contaminated fruits and veggies: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes (imported), spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.
  • A study supported by the EPA measured pesticide levels in children's urine before and after a switch to an organic diet. After just 5 days, the chemicals decreased to undetectable levels.

What's the scoop on "baby carrots"?

  1. They're cute, but they're not really baby carrots.
  2. They were developed by an enterprising farmer who wanted to use up his broken or misshapen carrots.
  3. They are really costly.
  4. A bag of 10 2-ounce single-serving packets of organic baby carrots is $5, but for $3.50 less, you can buy a 1-pound bag of whole organic carrots.
  5. Spend less and create less food waste by buying a large bag and cleaning them, putting them into serving ready, snack ready containers or snack size zip bags.

Mulligatawny For a further enticement to buy this book I’ve been mooning on and on about, take a look at Raghavan Iyer’s blog. Like a great song, or a thoroughly annoying one, once you get this soup in your head, just the notion of it, won't let you rest. You will not be satisfied until you’ve eaten it.

It’s around 4 AM for me so odds of me making this right now are slim. But I may yet be seduced. Do I hear a neighbor in the throes, it must be the soup taste-memory talking. Yes, it's that good. It's 5:24 AM now. Who does that at this hour? Just to be sure, I'm leaving my headphones on, iTunes playing! Now Caleb decides not to snore?!

Okay - Mulligatawny is on the list for Wednesday’s planned grocery shopping. Damn, why did I finish my avgolemono for lunch?!