Squash turmeric soup can be made with pumpkin or your favorite winter squash. The author likes to make it with acorn squash. (Reshma Seetharam)

Squash turmeric soup can be made with pumpkin or your favorite winter squash. The author likes to make it with acorn squash. (Reshma Seetharam)

Four soup recipes to help keep you warm and cozy this winter

When January arrives, Reshma Seetharam’a mind turns to rich and creamy, light and healthy soups.

When January arrives, my mind and my menu turn to comforting cold-weather soups. Rich and creamy, light and healthy, warm and mellow — I love them all.

When I make soup, I like to experiment by adding coconut milk, curry or garam masala powders, Thai chilies, cliantro and turmeric. You’ll also find a variety of vegetables readily found in the winter: onions, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and squash. I also add ingredients that serve as the backbone of a hearty soup. I like to cook with quinoa, oats and lentils.

Here are four of my favorite cold-weather soup recipes. Most of them can be broken down into three easy steps: Saute, puree and simmer.

These soups are all vegetarian, but you’re welcome to add your choice of protein — perhaps chicken, sausage or bacon — to any of them to make an even heartier stew.

Vegetable quinoa sprout soup

This is a hearty and refreshing soup of vegetables, sprouts and quinoa.

1 cup quinoa, raw

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Thai green chili, minced

¼ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon curry powder

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup potatoes, cut into chunks

1 cup bean sprouts

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic and green chili for 1 minute on high, then reduce to medium. Add potatoes, carrots and sprouts, and saute for 2 more minutes. Add quinoa and saute for another 5 minutes. Toss in the spices and saute for 1 minute.

Add the broth, bring the soup to a rolling boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Oats corn cilantro soup

This soup is perfect for dinner — or even for breakfast — because it’s so warm and comforting.

1 cup quick cooking oats, raw

1 cup red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup scallions, finely chopped

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of cilantro, finely chopped plus a few sprigs for garnish

Heat oil in a pan and add the onions, green chili and garlic. Saute for 1 minute.

Add oats and saute for 3 minutes. Throw in the corn and spinach. Saute until the spinach wilts.

Add vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil, and then turn the heat down low to simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Add scallions and cook for just 1 minute. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Spinach and lentil soup

This soup is a delicious combination of fresh spinach and yellow lentils.

4 cups of fresh spinach, washed and drained

1 cup shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 cup yellow lentils

1 Thai green chili

1 tablespoon coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the lentils in about 3 cups warm water for 20 minutes. Cook lentils on a stovetop, until they are mushy, or about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a pan in medium heat add shallots, garlic and spinach; cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Let cool and puree the vegetables along with the cooked lentils. Put the pan on low heat. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper.

Put into soup bowls and garnish with cooked corn. Makes 2-3 servings.

Squash turmeric soup

This soup can be made with pumpkin or your favorite winter squash. I like to make it with acorn squash.

2 cups fresh squash, cubed

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic

½ cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon garam masala powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric

A few sprigs of dill for garnish

Cut squash into ½-inch cubes.

Saute squash, onion, garlic together in olive oil until the pumpkin is soft. Add the spices and saute for 1 minute until aromatic. Turn off the heat.

Add a little stock and then puree until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in coconut milk.

Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh dill. Makes 2 servings.

Reshma Seetharam’s blog, My Foodarama, can be found at www.reshmaseetharam.com.

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