Spring is almost here, but there’s still a crisp edge to the air that begs for a simple bowl of warm soup. I’ll admit that I’m eager to start digging in the garden again and surround myself with all the freshness that spring and summer have to offer.
It has been unseasonably warm for much of the winter here in Alaska, but I’ve lived here long enough not to get my hopes up for an early spring. After all, May 15th is the last average frost for my area. Starting my seeds will have to do for now. I highly recommend getting a few packets yourself, even if you only have a small porch or sunny window. There’s nothing better than plucking a salad from your garden and devouring it within minutes – oh summer, how I have missed you…
All daydreaming aside, the recipe I’m sharing today is my go-to red lentil soup recipe. It has been adapted over the years, originally Deborah Madison’s Red Lentil Soup with Lime recipe published in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (a book well worth its heft, if you can get over the lack of photographs). It’s filled with warming spices and simple enough to make on a weeknight. Red lentils provide a smooth texture, punctuated with the striking yellow hue of turmeric and spiked with one of my favorite spice combos: cumin, yellow mustard and red pepper flakes. It’s all balanced out with a tang of lemon. This is just the recipe to ease into springtime.
The spices featured in this recipe are all nutritional superstars in their own right, but no other spice has been more widely studied than turmeric. And for good reason: curcumin—the active ingredient—contains such diverse and powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that it has been shown to improve and protect nearly ever organ in the human body. In fact, thousands of studies have shown curcumin effective in treating over 70 disorders including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and age-related macular degeneration to name just a few. Phew!
This should come as no surprise considering healers from India and China have been using turmeric for thousands of years to treat a wide range of ailments. Even better, turmeric is beautiful and has a mild flavor, lending itself well to a wide range of recipes (or as a lovely golden dye—don’t say I didn’t warn you).
I hope you enjoy this last warm bowl of goodness before saying goodbye to winter and diving headfirst into fresh spring veggies and long summer days. I know I can’t wait!
 Aggarwal, Bharat B. and Yost, Deborah. Healing Spices. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2011, p.241-243, Print.