Everyone around me is sick.
This is not a rare circumstance, especially during the slow descent into winter, when morale and immune systems begin to weather with the weather.
What is strange and new and novel is that I am not.
Every relationship has various power dynamics. When it comes to sickness, I have always played the part of the host monkey, and Charlie the one who reluctantly gets into bed with it night after night.
Though it took a while for him to realize he wasn’t in any imminent danger, I always marveled at his immune system. At his ability to spend time with a sick person and not get sick. This is what it must be like to be a normal, strong person, I thought. So productive, so freeing.
In fact, while I made my official goal of The Wellness Project to be able to” wake up with energy excited to take on the day,” the secondary one was to build up my immune system to the point where I run out to get a carton of almond milk and not come back with a common cold.
Since we’re two years in the hole now, I think I can say, without any spoiler alerts, that my biggest goal was accomplished. But more impressive than that, is this secondary goal.
I used to not be able to count the number of times a year I was sick. I often couldn’t remember the last time because the times would blur together into one parade of minor to severe illness, my night table a perpetual pile of used tissues, my nose a consistent fuchsia.
Now I can’t remember the last time I was sick because it’s been so long. During book tour especially, I felt myself getting dangerously close. But a day of green liquids and hot baths and good sleep usually boomeranged me back into shape.
This week marks the first time though that Charlie has been sick and I haven’t been. It feels a little early to gloat, and part of me feels like I am jinxing myself just by writing it. But another part of me—a long lost pre-autoimmune part of me—is not worried. Imagine that?
I have, however, been trying to stay up on my greens just in case, which is where this creamy parsnip soup comes in.
A low FODMAP diet is not one that’s particularly kind to people who like to eat their vegetables. Besides leafy greens and herbs, most other options are off the table. My mother’s classic green detox soup, however, is remarkably 100 percent doable for this diet. It’s a simple combination of zucchini, chard, cilantro and lemon juice, and gets you back on your feet unlike anything else in my arsenal.
I decided to use the whole bunch of herbs trick to add a little green to a more rich, indulgent potage—the creamy combination of sweet, woody parsnips and potatoes. You can use any herbs you like, but I love the trio of basil, parsley and chives, which gives it that slight onion quality I so miss.
On top, I drizzled a simple garlic-chili oil. These infused oils are a back-pocket savior for low FODMAP cooking. Since the carbohydrates you’re avoiding in the garlic are not fat soluble, you can get away with infusing it into oils.
If you’re feeling a little on the fence health-wise, this satisfying green (but not too green) soup will help comfort you back to strength. And if you’re looking for ways to build up your overall strength so you don’t get hit with cold and flu season in the first place, well there’s no better reason to take on a mini wellness project of your own.
The February 5th session of my online course 4 Weeks to Wellness has 10 spots left. This program is not about quick fixes, grueling workouts or starvation-style cleanses. It’s about getting to the bottom of food vices and sensitivities, reevaluating your sleep, stress, hydration skincare and movement, and making over your habits for the long haul. Common colds be damned.
I hope you’ll join me this round!
With health and hedonism,
Creamy Green Parsnip Soup with Three Herbs and Chili-Garlic Oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ghee or coconut oil
- 6 medium parsnips about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 1 small russet potato about 1/3 pound, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons sherry red wine or apple cider vinegar
- One 14.5-ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 small bunch parsley bottom half (the stems) removed
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
For the oil:
- 6 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter, ghee or oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the parsnips until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and vinegar and scrape up any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in the coconut milk, vegetable stock and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the parsnips and potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the oil: in a small saucepan, gently heat the garlic, chili flakes and olive oil over a medium-low flame until very fragrant, about 10 minutes. If the garlic begins to brown, reduce the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature, then strain the garlic and chili through a fine mesh strainer and store in an airtight glass jar for up to a week.
- When the soup is ready, remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, basil and chives. Transfer the soup immediately to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth, adding more stock as necessary to reach your desired consistency.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with excess herbs and the chili-garlic oil.