Happy Turmeric Ginger Broth
Yellow is such a happy colour. I’ve always had a weakness for yellow. When I was a little girl, my dad asked me what colour I wanted him to paint my bedroom. All the other girls in the neighbourhood had pinks and purples. My cousin had pink and orange (it was the 70’s, okay?!) But I didn’t hesitate, I wanted Yellow and Green. Yellow makes me feel good. Green is just the best colour ever (I will argue this point if confronted!) Every shade of green is amazing. Some are brooding and somber, some are restful and cozy, and some are fresh and joyous. My sister always teases me because when asked what my favourite colour is, I will reply, ‘Chartreuse’. “What even is Chartreuse?!” was her reply years back. It’s that lovely yellow-green, not quite pea green or neon green, a bit more acidy, but for me, the most delectable colour. I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Chartreuse! Of course, I wouldn’t paint a room this colour, or even dress head to toe in it, but seeing it dotting my surroundings and closest just makes me smile.
Anyway, yellow. Mustard yellow. Lemon yellow, Butter Yellow. Funny how so many versions of yellow involve food! And there are ways to achieve a most luscious yellow in cooking. Yes, saffron is the classic, expensive way. I use this dear spice when preparing special rice dishes, like my Memorable Lamb Biryani. But there is another way to do it. Turmeric. It has even been called the ‘poor man’s saffron’.
I discovered turmeric years back when I was dealing with some inflammation due to broken bones from a car accident. I learned that turmeric’s medicinal property is called curcumin. It has been found to reduce inflammation and pain, and can even block the growth of certain types of tumors. It is also valuable in skin and digestive health, reducing bad cholesterol, and even protects against viral infections. So, definitely something to add to your kitchen arsenal.
I make tea with turmeric, as well as put it in stews and rice dishes. I even put it in my smoothies. But this recipe just swayed me because for the first time I found a soup base, or broth that totally highlighted and featured turmeric. And lately we are able to actually find fresh turmeric in the markets. There was a time when we were confined to ground turmeric, which is still absolutely fine. But to be able to grate a fresh turmeric root, and watch your fingers turn that ghastly shade of yellow, well, there’s nothing like it! Don’t be put off by the bizarre appearance of turmeric- they look kind of like big grubs, but get past it and get some turmeric!
This recipe is a combination of a Food and Wine recipe as well as Feasting at Home’s Turmeric Broth Detox Soup. Sylvia Fountaine has laid out a wonderful way to prepare the broth. And then allows you to make it your own. It’s such a versatile broth. And it comes together so quickly and fills your kitchen with the most intoxicating aroma. You can keep it vegetarian by using vegetable broth, and adding pulses or canned beans as your protein. Or how about shredded chicken and wild rice? Noodles and kale? And for me, after all is said and done, I’m quite happy to sip on just a mug of it, as I would my New You Bone Broth. You can make the broth ahead of time and then use it for a couple of days, reheating and adding different ingredients each time. Have fun with this recipe, and stay healthy. Apologizing in advance for the yellow fingers you will walk around with for a day or so.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 piece of lemongrass, outer hull removed, bruise the remaining layers with a knife and chop finely
- 1.5 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (or 2 tsp ground)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 tbsp freshly grated turmeric (or 2 tsp ground)
- 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds (1 tsp ground)
- 2 tsp coriander seeds (1 tsp ground)
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup basmati rice (dry) or other pasta, or grain like quinoa (or 1.5 cups of any of these, already cooked)
- 1/2 cup dry brown or green lentils (or 1 cup cooked) Or how about black lentils for a dramatic soup!
- 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
- 1 small can diced roasted tomatoes
- 1-2 cups cooked chicken
- 4 oz dried noodles
- 1-2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 2 large handfuls of chopped fresh kale
- 1 cup matchstick carrots, fennel, cabbage, bell peppers etc
- cilantro, scallions, mint
- Place the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) and crush as finely as possible. If using ground spices, then skip this step.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add lemongrass, ginger and fresh turmeric and lower heat to medium. Saute for 5 minutes until all start to brown, stirring often.
- Add the garlic and saute 2 more minutes.
- Add mustard seed and/or all the ground spices and saute 1 more minute.
- Add the water, stock and salt and bring to a simmer.
- Add the apple cider vinegar
- Taste. You can adjust your seasonings at this point. Add the cayenne, 1/8 of tsp at a time, till you are happy with the heat.
- At this point you have your flavour base. You can stop here and cool and refrigerate. You can continue to simmer to reduce and intensify the flavours. Or you can proceed with more ingredients and make your complete soup.
- If you are using dry ingredients, you will want to add them first, remembering that they will double or even triple in size (for some beans or pasta) so add moderately.
- Think about the veggies you are adding. Some will require more cooking time to soften, while others like kale can be added at the end. And cooked chicken etc just needs rewarming.
- If you are adding pasta, beans, rice that are already cooked and only need reheating, then add them after placing raw veggies in. Give the veggies a chance to cook before adding already prepared ingredients.
- You can really make this your own. Sylvia has outlined various options that are worth checking out. All I can say is, this broth is even great all on its own. I am happy drinking a mug of it, feeling warmth from the inside out.