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!
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.
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.
- In a large, thick bottomed or stainless steel saucepan, heat the oil on medium high heat.
- Add ginger, and saute for a few seconds, being careful to make sure that the ginger does not burn.
- Add the lemon grass, stirring for a few more seconds.
- Add onions and saute for 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Stir in the Thai red curry paste until it blends thoroughly into the onion-lemon grass mixture in the pan.
- Now add the Sambal Oelek, blending this also into the onion-curry paste mixture.
- Add the spinach to the pan, until coated with the onion-curry paste.
- Add the carrots, stirring for a couple of minutes until they just begin to soften.
- Stir in the beans, gently blending them with all the ingredients in the pan.
- Now add the broth to the pan, stirring on high heat for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in salt per suggested amount, or per taste.
- 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.
- Discard lemon grass from soup and season to taste.
- Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of cilantro, if desired.
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
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
- 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.