Every two weeks until the release of her new book Food for Thought (which comes out December 4), Cristina Ferrare will share be sharing one of her delicious brain-healthy recipes with us here at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. A portion of the proceeds from this book, in fact, will go to The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, an organization founded by Maria Shriver, who wrote the forward of the book. 


The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and educating women and men about the lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brain health.

One of the most important lifestyle changes we can make is to what we eat, and that’s where I come in.Many hours of research went into Food for Thought, my new cookbook that contains information that is important to your gut, heart and brain health. Within it, I break down the ingredients and recipes so you understand the nutritional value and how they help to heal your body and keep your body and mind strong.

Here’s a first look from the soup chapter of Food for Thought.


I brought this recipe back from South Africa when I had the honor of attending the opening of Oprah’s Leadership Academy for Girls. It was a life-altering experience (a story for another time).

On the schedule was a safari (no way I was going to miss that) and after a long mind-blowing day, we settled into our camp site. As the sun set, and what looked like a gajillion stars lighting up the night sky, we sat down for dinner. To be honest I thought I was going to become someone’s dinner, I could hear growls in the distant and heavy breathing coming from the bushes.

On the menu was this soup made with red lentils and African spices. It was so delicious that I went right up to the cook who was serving up the last portions from a heavy cast iron skillet and simply asked him if he would share the recipe, he smiled at me and said “Yes! Lucky me!”

I wanted to share the recipe for this lentil soup with you not only because it is delicious but because of the many health benefits of lentils. Lentils have many of the components that are necessary for gut health. Lentils help lower cholesterol and are great for heart and digestive health. They help stabilize blood sugar, increase energy and are a great source of protein.

While I don’t grind the spices such as cumin, coriander, ginger and cinnamon myself like my new friend Ayo the cook in Africa, I do buy the best quality spices in small packets at health food stores. Buying in smaller portions keeps the spices fresher and full of potent flavor.


Serves 4 to 6


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove smashed
2 teaspoons dried mint, crumbled
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Add all of the ingredients into a Mason jar or small glass container with a lid. Shake well and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.


3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
10 ½ ounces (1½ cups) red lentils
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 lemons, one sliced thin, the second into 8 wedges


In a soup pot on medium heat add onion and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Add in the garlic cloves, salt and pepper cook for 1 minute.

Add cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and tomato paste, mix together well. Turn the heat to low and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Pour in 1-1/2 quarts of chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour in the lentils and bring to boil, then turn the heat to low. Simmer stirring occasionally until lentils are soft—approximately 30 minutes or more. Taste to see if they are cooked through, the lentils should be soft but not mushy. If you see the soup is too thick add-in more chicken or vegetable broth ½ cup at a time. Stir in lemon juice and correct seasoning adding a pinch of more salt if needed.


Use a ladle to add soup into individual heated bowls. Drizzle each portion with 2 teaspoons of the spiced oil, or more depending on how spicy you like it. Sprinkle with cilantro, garnish with thinly sliced lemons and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. (Thin the soup and reduce thickness with chicken or vegetable broth when reheating.)


Save any leftover spiced oil and use over omelets, eggs, avocado toast, creamy soups, grilled fish and veggies.