Yum Friday Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

17 Feb

Yum Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

East meets west in this hearty soup that combines  Thai/Indian seasonings with sweet potatoes and parsnips.  Besides taste, we love this soup for the nutritional bang it brings to skin.  Sweet potatoes are the main ingredient that delivers this nutritional punch; they’re loaded with beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body; vitamin A ramps up skin cell production and sloughs off old skin cells.

We added parsnips to the soup to bring a nice buttery and slightly spicy taste.  Another reason we added them is that parsnips like sweet potatoes are a root vegetable.  Root vegetables in eastern medical traditions are warming foods that aid in digestion.  Proper digestion is necessary for the body to absorb nutrients and to remove waste.  Also, root vegetables are grounding, just the thing we need in the cold winter months.  They are a good source of potassium and magnesium.  In case you are interested, the Romans considered parsnips an aphrodisiac.  So…well, that’s all we’ll say on that score.

A dollop of coconut milk cream placed on the soup when serving rounds out and heightens the richness of the soup.  As we have reported before, coconut milk is rich in lauric acid.  Lauric acid is in mother’s milk and is said to be antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.  Check out our post “Coconut Milk Shake” for details on benefits of coconut milk.

Eating sweet potatoes or other foods high in beta-carotene is absolutely necessary for anyone who wants healthy beautiful skin.  But is really important for those with skin issues such as dry skin, premature wrinkles, acne, eczema, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, etc.  In addition, recent research indicates, sweet potatoes have a nutrient in them (batatosides) that have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  You can boost the absorption of vitamin A from foods by eating them with a bit of fat, such as olive oil, ghee, butter, etc.

If you are looking to attract a significant other into your life you may want to boost your consumption of cartenoid nutrient rich foods because researchers found they give the skin a healthy glow.  This healthy glow has yellow undertones, which people find attractive.  This attraction is true for all ethnicities.  We covered it in a post awhile back, “Carrots, Attraction, and Bugs Bunny – Huh?

I like sweet potatoes baked, oven fried, added to potato salad, in risotto, and mashed with some garlic, but I love them in this soup.  Come Thanksgiving, however, I pass those cloyingly sweet babies right by me.  It was those Thanksgiving sweet potatoes that kept me for years and years from embracing them and thereby missing out on their skin healthy benefits.  BTW–I do not get adding sweetener to an already sweet food.  They’re called sweet potatoes….  So, I love this recipe because their natural sweetness is balanced with some lime juice, and the flavor is tweaked with ginger and cilantro. The spiciness also chases winter chills away.  Those with eczema and psoriasis will want to make the soup without the jalapeno.  Spicy food is thought to exacerbate these conditions.

One cup of cooked sweet potatoes has 438% of daily value of vitamin A.  438%! Along with vitamin C, some B’s and copper, you can see why we think it’s one of skin’s ultimate foods. One other interesting and very beneficial aspects of sweet potatoes that researchers have recently discovered is that certain antioxidants in sweet potatoes bind heavy metals and helps to remove them from the body.

Cilantro another ingredient in the soup also helps to remove heavy metals from the body.   This detoxification of metals from the body is very important for everyone, but especially those with health conditions.  Cilantro is also rich in phytonutrients that are anti-oxidants and has anti-bacterial benefits.  In India, it is used for its anti-inflammatory benefits.  It is also a good source of the specific skin loving nutrients, zinc, copper, and the vitamins A, C, E, K, and some B’s.

Keep Cilantro Fresh in a Glass Jar

Yum Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup –
serves 6

3 cups (approx. 1#) sweet potatoes
2 cups (approx. ½ #) parsnips
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-3 teaspoons chopped jalapeno  (depending on amount of fire you want)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 cups high quality chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped plus a few sprigs for garnish
salt and pepper
¼ – 1/3 cup of the cream from top of the coconut milk in a can (use the rest of the coconut milk in a smoothie – check our recipes for one–or use in another recipe.)

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in 1 to 2 inch cubes.  Peel and cut the parsnips in 1 inch slices.  Parsnips like potatoes do turn black after being peeled.  If you peel and cut them ahead of time, place them in a bowl of water.

Pour olive oil in a 4 quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  When the oil is hot add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the sweet potatoes and sauté for about 4 minutes.  Add the parsnips and cook for about an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not burn.  Add the garlic, jalapeno, ginger, and 1 Tablespoon of the lime juice.  Also add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables occasionally so they don’t burn.

Pour in the stock and water.  Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat so the soup simmers.  Simmer soup until the sweet potatoes are very tender–about 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove soup from heat and add the cilantro and remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice.  Stir and allow to sit a minute until the cilantro becomes a bit wilted.

Use an immersion blender or blender to make the soup smooth and creamy.  If you use a blender, do the soup in batches.  Be mindful because the soup is hot, and you don’t want to burn yourself.
Serve with a dollop of the coconut cream.  Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.


If you use homemade vegetable or chicken stock, don’t dilute it.  Commercial stock, especially vegetable, is stronger than homemade, so I always dilute it.

As mentioned in the text, if you have eczema or psoriasis don’t add the jalapeno.

Serving suggestions:

The soup can be served rustic style.  Do not blend the soup.

Top the soup with some parsnip crisps.  Cut some very thin peeled parsnip slices and cook until golden and crispy in some hot oil.  Drain on paper towel and sprinkle a pinch of salt on chips.


“Sweet Potatoes.”  The World’s Healthiest Foods.  Online: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64


2 Responses to “Yum Friday Recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup”

  1. Assia February 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Oh, delicious! Looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

    • yumscrub February 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks. I think it may become one of my favorite soups.

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