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Article updated: 8/27/2013 1:00 PM

Finding happiness in a bowl of soup

By M. Eileen Brown

It's hard to resist a recipe for Happiness Soup, wouldn't you say?

With a name like that, it's a soup with a fairly high standard to live up to, but Nigella Lawson, the British food writer, swears by this sunny yellow concoction that uses summer squash, lemon peel and turmeric for its cheery presentation.

It's a great late summer-early fall recipe, especially if you have a garden filled with yellow squash. There's rice in it, too, which gives it a nice comfort food vibe. Add the lemon juice and zest and you have a refreshing, but satisfying soup.

But I have to say it's the turmeric that breaks this recipe out of the ordinary. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, turmeric, a member of the ginger family, contains something called curcumin, a molecule with antidepressant effects.

In fact, there have been more than 4,000 studies on the health benefits of curcumin, including one that links it to lower rates of dementia. Apparently, it works on the brain on a molecular level by enhancing new brain cells, working as a potent antioxidant and boosting serotonin and dopamine.

According the article, "curcumin is theorized to help fight illnesses like depression because it boosts the feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are fundamental for good moods, clear thinking, a healthy sex drive and sharp focus."

How's that for a recipe for happiness?

(If you want to learn more about how food affects your mood, check out "The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body" by Tyler G. Graham and Drew Ramsey. It's a great book with a lot of wonderful recipes.)

In any case, Happiness Soup has a lot going for it, including the fact that it's really easy to make. And that always makes me happy.

Ÿ M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation, and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com.

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