Paula Recommends …Mushroom Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

This is a very hearty, chunky soup filled with a combination of sweet and savory spices — cinnamon, coriander and cumin — which give it a deep, earthy richness as well as a generous amount of cancer-fighting phytochemicals. For the most complex flavor, use several kinds of mushrooms and cook them until they are dark golden brown and well caramelized. Plant-based, low in sodium and calories, high in flavor and health benefits: a perfect winter meal. – Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 & 1/4  lbs. mixed mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster, chanterelles and shiitake), chopped
1/2 lb. shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground allspice
2 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
Fresh lime juice, to taste
Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)

1. Heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms and half the shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and repeat with remaining olive oil, mushrooms and shallots.

2. Return all mushrooms to the pot and stir in tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Stir in 5 cups water, the salt and the black pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. Stir in baby spinach and let cook until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Using an immersion blender or food processor, coarsely puree soup. Mix in lime juice. Thin with water, as needed.

5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with dollops of yogurt if you’d like.

Nutrition information: Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 182 calories; 12g fat; 2g saturated fat; 12g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 5g protein; 210 mg sodium