If you love turmeric, this is a relatively quick and easy soup to kick start healthy eating habits this year. Along with anti-inflammatory properties and detoxification support, turmeric adds a distinct and delicate aroma wherever it is used. Turmeric’s peppery, slightly bitter and earthy essence imparts a depth of flavour to soups and stews that is quite unique.
This amazing, vibrantly colourful little root has been in use for thousands of years. The compounds found in turmeric are well known for their medicinal properties and researchers continue to uncover new health benefits. Recent studies suggest that turmeric has the potential to improve cognitive and kidney function, regulate blood sugar, and lessen the degree of severity associated with some forms of arthritis and digestive disorders. And, apparently you don’t need much to reap these benefits. In some studies, health benefits have been seen from as little as 50 milligrams of turmeric over a period of several months. This is less than a ½ teaspoon. It wouldn’t be difficult to add that amount of turmeric to your diet – and your body will thank you!
Use the broth in this recipe as a guideline for the soup. To keep it simple, just add the spice paste, noodles and a few fresh herbs as I did and you’ll have a really nutritious and vibrantly colourful soup. For a bit more oomph, add a few vegetables, greens or legumes. The broth is relatively failsafe and you can easily elevate the heat by increasing the amount of chilli. Likewise, you can reduce the heat by decreasing the amount of chilli in the spice paste.
I use nitrile gloves when handling fresh or powdered turmeric because the orange colour stains everything. I thoroughly wash everything that comes in contact with turmeric in cold soapy water before subjecting it to hot water. Hot water seems to seal the stain and makes it harder to remove the colour from counter tops, utensils, cutting boards, fabric and containers.
Tip: Although I don’t use oil in any of the recipes on this blog, for this recipe I placed a tiny amount of coconut oil on a paper towel and rubbed every nook and cranny on the inside of my VitaMix jug to prevent the turmeric from staining the inside of my jug.
For the Spice Paste
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh turmeric*
- 1-2 chillies, birds eye, Serrano, seeded
- ¼ cup cashew pieces
- 1 tsp. powdered turmeric
- 3 stalks lemongrass, tender hearts only, finely chopped
- 1 cup peeled and sliced shallots, about 3 medium
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
Blend all of the ingredients to a smooth paste with 50-60 ml of water in a high-speed blender or food processor. If not using paste right away, refrigerate in a covered container.
For the Broth
- 1 litre vegetable stock, preferably homemade
- 200 ml tamarind liquid (see directions below)
- ¼ cup Naked Coconuts (or soy substitute)
- 1 tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 tbs. maple syrup
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tsp. salt (I used homemade broth which had very little salt to begin with)
- Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
For the tamarind liquid, dissolve 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp in 1 cup boiling water,. Strain the pulp and add 200 ml of liquid in the broth.
Place the remaining broth ingredients in a medium-large pot and add the spice paste. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the kaffir lime leaves. Adjust seasonings.
- Soba noodles*
- 1 long red chili, finely sliced
- 2 spring onions, green part only, finely sliced
- Handful of fresh mint,
- Handful of fresh cilantro
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and distribute evenly between 4 bowls. Ladle the broth over the noodles; sprinkle the soup generously with spring onions, fresh cilantro and mint. Top with a few slices of red chilli and serve with a wedge of lime.
Yield: 4 generous servings
*You can double the amount of fresh turmeric and omit the addition of powdered turmeric if you want. (I didn’t do that because fresh turmeric was really expensive when I went shopping for the ingredients in this recipe – $14.99/lb. at my local health food store!! I’ll be looking for a cheaper source in the future).
*Not all brands of soba noodles are GF. Some contain wheat so be sure to check the list of ingredients on the package if you are gluten-intolerant.