I’m into this cool weather we’re experiencing here in the East, excited about how autumn has fallen, thrilled that it’s finally time for my boots and sweaters! You may feel similarly. Or you may just feel cold and not want to feel cold. Either way, you should take a look at this warming soup that is guaranteed to have you feeling warmed and cherished as you warm your toes in front of the fire.
Eastern View: Often overlooked, parsnips have a wonderful subtle flavor and distinct texture. The natural sweetness harmonizes well with apples in this delicious soup. The heating spices and light consistency make it especially balancing for Kaphas. Serve with some bread and ghee for Vatas and add a teaspoon cilantro for Pittas.
The warm nature of parsnips promotes sweating while bitterness reduces stagnant fluids. Parsnip is a root vegetable which also gives it heartiness and sweet taste. This mixture of cleansing properties and heartiness is part of what makes parsnip so unique.
Parsnip has high starch and sugar content while remaining low in calories. It’s warming nature helps burn off fat. It’s high soluble fiber content reduces cholesterol and supports healthy elimination. Altogether parsnip is an excellent choice for weight loss diets because it offers satisfaction and heartiness while helping shed pounds.
Parsnip and turnip are perhaps the most satisfying of foods with “bland” taste. Bland taste doesn’t mean tasteless in Ayurveda, but instead refers to a class of foods that loosely correlate to what is known in the west as a ‘negative calorie’ food. These foods often have high fiber but low calorie content.
Western View: Parsnips contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including dietary fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the main health benefit of including fresh produce like parsnips in your diet regularly is that the nutrients consumed can significantly reduce your risk of a number of serious medical problems.
A 1/2-cup of cooked parsnips contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. This amount fulfills 12 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance of fiber for healthy adult men and women adhering to a 2,000-calorie diet. The majority of a parsnip’s fiber is soluble fiber. A high intake of soluble fiber is linked to a decreased risk of diabetes and high blood cholesterol. Diets that include plenty of high-fiber foods like parsnips may also help prevent heart disease, cancer, hemorrhoids, obesity, stroke and diverticulitis.
Parsnips provide 45 micrograms of folate in each 1/2-cup cooked serving, or 11 percent of the RDA of the vitamin. A member of the B family of vitamins, folate aids in energy metabolism, the promotion of nervous system health and function and in the synthesis of DNA, RNA and red blood cells. Adequate folate intake lessens your risk of depression, heart disease, cancer and age-related vision and hearing loss. Folate is especially important for pregnant women, who require a minimum of 600 micrograms of folate daily compared to the 400 micrograms needed by non-pregnant women. Consuming enough folate during pregnancy can help decrease the risk of birth defects in newborn infants.
Every 1/2-cup serving of cooked parsnips contains 6 percent of the RDA of potassium. Both a mineral and an electrolyte, potassium is essential for skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle function and for the production and maintenance of bones. Regularly consuming potassium-rich foods like parsnips can help lower your risk of stroke and high blood pressure. Elderly people, as well as anyone who has been prescribed a non-steroidal inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor like benazepril or enalapril, should exercise caution when eating high-potassium foods like parsnips. Individuals in these circumstances may develop abnormally high blood potassium levels, or hyperkalemia. If this is your situation, speak to your doctor before incorporating parsnips into your regular diet.
Parsnips contain 13 percent of the RDA of vitamin C for adult women and 11 percent of the RDA of vitamin C for men. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, supports bone, skin, blood vessel, immune system and teeth health. It is an antioxidant that can inhibit the ability of free radical compounds to damage DNA, and may help prevent osteoarthritis, hypertension and heart disease. The vitamin C content of parsnips decreases rapidly the longer the vegetable is exposed to heat, light, air and water. Keep the vitamin C concentration high by using fresh parsnips within three to four days of purchase and cutting them only just before cooking or eating. Minimize water contact by using preparation methods other than boiling.
Parsnip and Apple Soup
- 3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped.
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon ghee or sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons roasted caraway seeds
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
Put the parsnips, apples, stock and water in a large pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile heat the ghee or sunflower oil in a small pan. Stir in the curry powder, caraway seeds, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.
Stir the sauteed spice mixture and the bay leaves into the pot. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. With a ladle, transfer a third of the mixture to a blender, carefully blend till smoothly pureed.
Stir the puree back into the soup. Season to taste before serving.
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with at any given time. Foods that supplement your specific body type’s needs and digest easily create your menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you experience optimal health.
If you would like to talk with me, I offer a complimentary consultation where we can chat about your health problems and goals.