Creamy Vegan Low-FODMAP Parsnip Soup

Creamy Vegan Low-FODMAP Parsnip Soup

For the past eleven years, I’ve dealt on and off (mostly on) with intense digestive issues ranging from abdominal cramping and distention, constipation, and a “full” feeling that creeps up into my throat and is the antithesis of the good kind of full-feeling after you’ve had perhaps a bit too much of a satisfying, delicious meal. Needless to say, my relationship with food has suffered greatly as a result, turning it into a constant state of cold warfare where every bite feels like a defensive move. Will you be my friend or enemy today, kale salad? Will this bite of apple finally be the poisonous one that puts me to sleep for good? This is not a good way to spend your days, which are inherently punctuated by the intake of your next meal, in case you were wondering. For the past two-and-a-half weeks, though, I’ve felt an incredible relief from these symptoms and more thanks to the excruciatingly strict low-FODMAP diet. After just a day of not eating some of my staples—namely garlic, onion, and apples, which apparently are full of the nasty sugars that cause this bloat and discomfort—and seeing my symptoms dissolve entirely, I decided to trade one kind of excruciation for another.  I won’t pretend to fully understand behind the science of this short-term dietary fix, so I’ll leave it to experts and resources I’ve perused during this first stage of the plan called the elimination phase (usually lasting 3-8 weeks, depending on the severity of symptoms and speed of recovery). Like with all diets, everyone seems to have a slightly different take on what’s allowed and what’s not, so I decided to just stick to one and not worry myself with nuances. I’m already anal enough, and this list is making me more so! In that vein, I’m learning the rules as I go, so as to not overwhelm myself, and thus taking the opportunity to think in simple black-and-white terms about what I can and cannot eat. This guide currently resides on my phone, and I consult it whenever I go shopping or eat out at a restaurant.

What you might realize immediately, as I and many others have, is that being vegan on this diet is hard. Really hard. It’s essentially gluten-free (so lots of carbs are off the table, but not all), but staples like legumes and many types of produce are off-limits as well. Plus the serving sizes matter, because eating a lot of a low-FODMAP food means eating a lot of FODMAPs—so not good. Considering this list, many of my favorite vegan foods, including hummus and apples, have been banished from my refrigerator, which at first made me a little depressed. If achieving comfort while eating meant sucking the joy out of it, taking the crisp out of the bites of life I was meant to be savoring, then what was the point? I assuaged myself by realizing this detox was only temporary, and that like all things I’d just have to figure out to what degree I could tolerate my old favorites. Sometimes the things that work for you in certain times of life just stop working. That doesn’t mean you stop working, you just keep calm and eat on.  Another fear I had was that this diet would be completely flavorless. I mean, how could you eat anything without garlic and onion? Since the new year started I’ve devoured soup make almost exclusively of whole garlic bulbs, and for my Ayurvedic dosha these ingredients are highly recommended. But maybe that’s the problem: maybe I’m creating an imbalance where there was none to begin? The next stage of the diet will be telling as such: I’ll be incorporating single FODMAP ingredients back into my diet to see which are the triggers and how much of each I can tolerate. Striking a new balance, if you will. Meanwhile, I’ve been having fun in the kitchen creating riffs on my favorite recipes that exclude the forbotten ingredients yet still pack in tons of flavor. The secret is using a heavier hand with spices and ingredients that are naturally satiating. Here the sweet, creamy strokes of parsnips combine with more bitter punches of asparagus, all over a canvas of neutralizing cauliflower that’s filling yet low-calorie. When serving, I added a scoop of rice or plain, firm tofu for nutritional heft. Enjoy!

Creamy Low-FODMAP Parsnip Soup

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6


  • 2 Tbsp.coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp spice mix equal parts cumin, turmeric, paprika + 1/4-part cloves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • Tbsp dry basil
  • 1 Tbsp dry dill
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 cups parsnips sliced
  • 1 large head cauliflower chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups fresh spinach


  • Heat the oil and spice mix over a medium flame in a large Dutch oven until spices are just fragrant. *Watch* them so they don't burn, as the coconut oil has a high heat point. Lower heat immediately once fragrant.2. As you're chopping the vegetables, add them to the pot and stir to coat in spices. Add a splash of water as you chop to keep the vegetables steaming. 3. Add remaining spices, water, and nutritional yeast. Stir and raise heat to bring the liquid to a boil. 4. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes. 5. Blend with an immersion blender until creamy. If you're using a food processor or blender, you must wait until the soup is cooled to room temperature.6. Add spinach to warm soup and stir to incorporate, until the leaves are wilted.


To serve, sprinkle with salt and a dash of sesame seeds for crunch.

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