Asian-inspired, carrot-spinach soup, and a vitamin A primer. Gluten free, vegan.

Making nutritious, delicious! Don’t be surprised if you get curious neighbors knocking on your door, enticed by the mesmerizing aroma of the fragrant lemon grass, and the unmistakable scent of Thai curry paste as it permeates your kitchen and wafts down the street or hallway, beckoning your neighbors. This soup taps into the wholesome goodness of fresh ginger, spinach, carrots and beans to form a mouth-watering concoction with a hint of Thai curry paste and lemon grass to give it an Asian flavor. Brimming with antioxidants, vitamin A and C from spinach, beta carotene from carrots, anti-inflammatory components from onions and ginger, this soup combines good taste and sound nutrition, all in one steaming hot bowl!

© Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Spinach, carrots and beans pack a hefty nutrient punch in this heart-warming soup! © Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

© Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Asian inspired carrot-spinach soup. © Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Make sure to scroll down all the way to get a quick snapshot on beta carotene, found in abundance in this recipe, and the important role it plays in supporting health.

image

© Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Yield: Approximately 5, 1 cup servings

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or sesame oil
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
  • 2 cans of red pinto beans, (15.5 oz each), thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 2 coarsely chopped, medium-sized, yellow onions
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch semi-circles
  • 6-7, 1.5-2 ” pieces of lemon grass
  • 3/4 tbsp finely chopped, fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp store-bought Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp store-bought Sambal Oelek, ground fresh chili paste*
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • A few sprigs of cilantro for garnish (optional)

*If you do not have sambal oelek, you can increase the Thai chili paste to at least 1 tbsp, and season to taste.

Method:

  1. In a large, thick bottomed or stainless steel saucepan, heat the oil on medium high heat.
  2. Add ginger, and saute for a few seconds, being careful to make sure that the ginger does not burn.
  3. Add the lemon grass, stirring for a few more seconds.
  4. Add onions and saute for 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  5. Stir in the Thai red curry paste until it blends thoroughly  into the onion-lemon grass mixture in the pan.
  6. Now add the Sambal Oelek, blending this also into the onion-curry paste mixture.
  7. Add the spinach to the pan, until coated with the onion-curry paste.
  8. Add the carrots, stirring for a couple of minutes until they just begin to soften.
  9. Stir in the beans, gently blending them with all the ingredients in the pan.

    © Copyright, December, 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    Beans and spinach are sautéed with onions and lemon grass. © Copyright, January, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  10. Now add the broth to the pan, stirring on high heat for a couple of minutes.
  11. Stir in salt per suggested amount, or per taste.
  12. Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and allow to simmer gently on low heat for about 15 minutes or so until soup begins to thicken, and the flavors get sealed.
  13. Discard lemon grass from soup and season to taste.
  14. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of cilantro, if desired.
image

© Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

A Registered Dietitian’s tip:

Spinach is a rich source of iron, vitamins A and C, folate, as well as magnesium. However, the iron in spinach, called non-heme iron is not readily absorbed by the body… read this post,  to find out more on what you can do to increase its absorption.

This recipe supplies an abundance of vitamin A from both spinach as well as carrots. In fact, 1 whole fresh carrot, and 1 serving of spinach supply more than twice the RDA for this nutrient! Vitamin A was the first, fat soluble vitamin to be recognized. It has been the subject of intense scientific research with its diverse roles, and deficiency symptoms.1

While pumpkins and carrots are abundant in beta carotene, beets are not a significant source. © Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

While pumpkins and carrots are abundant in beta carotene, beets are not a significant source. © Copyright, 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Nutrient spotlight: Vitamin A 

  • A versatile vitamin: We all know that vitamin A is important for vision. But did you also know that it helps support healthy skin, your immune system and bone health?
  • Food sources of vitamin A: There are 2 forms of vitamin A: Preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A carotenoids. Preformed vitamin A is derived from animal sources such as milk and milk products, liver, fish oils, butter and eggs.
  • Pro-vitamin A carotenoids, a stronghold of antioxidants: Biologically active, preformed vitamin A is not found in plant foods, however many plants contain pro-vitamin A carotenoids, the red and yellow pigments in plants. While all carotenoids are antioxidants, quenching free radicals and protecting the body from oxidative damage, only a few of the carotenoids in plants have vitamin A activity. The carotenoid with the greatest vitamin A activity is beta carotene1.
  • Beta-carotene: Beta carotene is a rich, deep orange pigment, and  imparts a vibrant color to foods that are abundant in this compound such as carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe, to name a few.
  • Masked by chlorophyll: Spinach and other leafy greens, including beet greens, (but not beets), also contain beta carotene, however they also contain the green pigment chlorophyll, which masks the carotene they contain.
  • Don’t hold the fat: Since beta-carotene is fat-soluble, it makes sense to consume it with a small amount of fat to enable your body to absorb it in optimal amounts. As noted in this recipe, we used peanut oil, a form of mono-unsaturated fat, to maximize absorption.
  • Meal planning matters: A simple rule of thumb for meal planning is to include an array of foods with various colors as the different phyto-nutrients and antioxidants end up complementing each other1
  1. Whitney and Rolfes, Understanding Nutrition. Sixth Edition.

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Get cooking, Soups and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Asian-inspired, carrot-spinach soup, and a vitamin A primer. Gluten free, vegan.

  1. Sounds delicious and looks so good too. Lots of benefits packed in. Surely going to try this. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are more than welcome, Kamal. Thank you for the kind words. Let me know how it turns out:))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This soup looks so tasty and hearty. Perfect for the winter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Ronit! So kind of you to say so:))
    It is certainly very suitable for this time of the year. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s easy to give compliments for good recipes! I also love the information about the nutrients and how they work together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My pleasure, Ronit! It’s a common, (misplaced) belief that if something tastes good, it cannot be good for you. I like to discuss how various nutrients work in concert with each other, and how delicious can also be nutritious at the same time:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sheryl says:

    This soup looks yummy, and, as usual, I learned a lot from reading the easy-to-understand nutritional information.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you for your positive feedback as always! It’s good to know that I’m presenting nutritional info. that’s easy to understand. 😊

    Like

  9. Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you for your positive feedback as always! It’s good to know that I’m presenting nutritional info that’s easy to understand. 😊

    Like

  10. I LOVE beans so these recipes will go down well. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are more than welcome, Elizabeth! Let me know how it works out😊!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. love this soup recipe.. Tonight we have had both carrots and spinach steamed.. And I very often grater raw carrots and beetroot to have in salads, and use baby spinach leaves raw along with raw Kale and Lettuce to have within our salad..
    I like also to grater red cabbage and red and yellow peppers to make a coleslaw I would be interested in knowing how these last 3 ingredients we eat regular with salad help our nutrition Sangeeta :-)….
    Beautiful photos of deliciousness 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear Sue,
    Great question. Red cabbage has a slight edge over green, because of the abundance of polyphenolic antioxidants called anthocyanins that they contain. Like green cabbage, it is also rich in Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant, and belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables that contain substances called glucosinolates. Numerous studies have outlined the anti-carcinogenic properties in cruciferous vegetables.
    Peppers are high in Vitamin C as well the carotenoids mentioned in this post, which are also antioxidants. Not to mention fiber and it’s numerous benefits. So you are eating a virtual antioxidant cocktail in that case! So much better than the chemical cocktail we ingest when we eat manufactured foods!!
    These nutrients work in concert with each other, enhancing each other’s effects; hence dietary patterns are important, not just individual nutrients. Hope this helps! Love your feedback:))

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh that is brilliant to know Sangeeta, thank you so much for that wonderful feedback.. Its good to know 🙂 Today I tried your soup recipe.. I had a little celery over so chopped it fine and added that as well . WONDERFUL it was too. And more left over for tomorrow . 🙂 Delicious ❤ 😀

    Like

  15. That’s great, Sue. Good to hear you liked the recipe. Yes, I love to throw in ant left over veggies into my soups and stir fry dishes. Stops waste and adds vital nutrients. Thank you so
    much for sharing your experience here. Cheers!!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dgkaye says:

    This sounds divine Sangeeta. I’ve bookmarked to try when I return home to winter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Debbie,
    Thank you so much! Hope you like it. Let me know. Hope you are in a nice warm place right now before you get back to the cold. Enjoy:))!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. dgkaye says:

    Yes, although we’ve gone through 2 cold spells here in the southwest, it’s finally getting hotter again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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