Super(hero) foods

In his new book chef Seamus Mullen features edible dynamos more powerful than a locomotive.

Chef Seamus Mullen grew up on a farm in Vermont and earned his culinary chops in some of the best restaurants in Spain, so it’s no surprise that, when diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he turned to food. “I do not believe that what we eat can cure illness, but I do believe that eating well... can improve our sense of well-being,” writes Mullen in the introduction to his new cookbook Hero Food. The book is dedicated to the 18 feel-good foods that helped him make a comeback from the diagnosis and open Tertulia, his new, James Beard-nominated New York City restaurant.

“I started by making a list of all my favorite things to eat and cook with, and then started to learn more about them,” says Mullen of his quest to find his personal superfoods. “It turned out that a lot of the things I loved also happened to be great for me.” So, Mullen hired a researcher and a nutritionist and bounced ideas off his doctor as he worked on the cookbook. “And then, of course, got the seal of approval from Marion Nestle [Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University], who knows more about food than pretty much anyone,” says Mullen.

His final lineup of hero foods, which includes health heavyweights such as almonds and olive oil, as well as some often overlooked kitchen staples such as parsley and anchovies, have anti-inflammatory powers that can help everyone feel and function better. Here, Mullen elevates the humble carrot to hero status in a healthy, refreshing summer soup.

Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Tarragon
Serves 4


1 pound large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
About ½ c. Arbequina or other good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp. grated whole turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
½ c. plain yogurt such as labne, a strained Middle Eastern yogurt
Leaves of 1 bunch fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add the carrots and blanch until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the carrots from the boiling water and chill quickly in an ice bath.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sweat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and sweat for 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Place the carrots in a Vitamix or blender with the shallots, garlic, vinegar, orange zest and juice, ginger, and turmeric and process at high speed. With the motor running, drizzle in about ½ cup cold water, to achieve a nice velvety consistency. Reduce the speed to its lowest setting and drizzle in ½ cup olive oil until it’s fully incorporated. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper; if you like the flavor a bit more acidic, add more orange juice or vinegar. Divide the soup among 4 chilled bowls and top each serving with a dollop of yogurt, a sprig of tarragon, a drizzle of olive oil and a little fresh ground pepper.

From Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food by Seamus Mullen/Andrews McMeel Publishing