Chestnut and Parsnip Soup

My mother has osteoporosis and for some time now has been learning about alkalising her diet to avoid losing more calcium from her bones. I was so excited to hear that there was a completely natural way to do this, that I purchased the book she’s reading, The Acid Alkaline Food Guide by Dr. Susan E. Brown. Additionally, I’ve also been doing some research trying to understand which foods are processed as alkaline and which are processed as acid in our digestive systems.

It’s important to have a slightly alkaline pH balance in our bodies. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, whereas a pH below 7.0 is acidic and anything above 7.0 is alkaline. “An acidic pH can occur from an acidic forming diet, emotional stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients.” (  The body will try to compensate for acidic pH levels by extracting alkaline minerals. Such is the case with calcium. If one’s diet is too acidic, the body will compensate by extracting calcium from bones, therefore causing osteoporosis.

According to, an acidic forming diet will: “decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease its ability to repair damaged cells, decrease its ability to detoxify heavy metals, make tumor cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness. A blood pH of 6.9, which is only slightly acidic, can induce coma and death.”

So, it’s really important to maintain a diet, which is more alkaline than acidic. We still need to eat acidic foods and get the vitamins and minerals from them. However, we should be tipping the balance more in favour of alkaline foods to ensure our pH balance is healthier. There are a number of sites online listing which foods are acidic and which are alkaline. In some cases, some fruits, vegetables and nuts have contradictory classifications. One list I like to use is Livestrong also has some very good information available.

With all this new knowledge and my enthusiasm, I’m constantly looking for ways to include at least two alkaline foods in every meal… and today’s soup is an example of this.

Chestnuts are probably the most alkaline forming nut (along with almonds) that we can eat. Garlic, onions, parsnips, cumin,  and black pepper are also all alkaline forming. So, this soup is loaded with nutrients, minerals and will help you maintain your alkaline pH!

As I was preparing the vegetables, I realised just how aromatic parsnips are. I had forgotten, since I haven’t cooked with them in a while.  Their fragrance is pungent and slightly sweet (once peeled and boiled, they have a glycemic index of about 52, according to the University of Sydney’s Glycemic Index), and they definitely are a good match for the delicious chestnut, which is in season now.

This recipe is something I had lying around from my mother, so I have no idea of the source. But it’s one I love to make, since it’s easy and quick and an interesting combination of flavours.


Ingredients, for 4-6

  • 400g chestnuts, precooked, peeled and chopped (save a couple of chestnuts for garnish)
  • 200g parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 liter filtered water, plus 1/4 liter extra
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, grated


In a pot, place about 1/4 cup of olive oil and the onion, garlic and parsnips. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped chestnuts and the spices. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes, covered.

With a hand blender (or regular blender), puree all of the ingredients. Add 1/4 liter water to thin out the soup. Mix well. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with some chopped chestnuts and serve with cheese crisps.

To make the cheese crisps: Grate some parmesan or old cheese. On a piece of parchment on a plate, make a circle (or desired shape) with the grated cheese. Microwave for 30-40 seconds. Allow to cool and it will peel off the parchment paper with ease. And although cheese is acidic forming, I wouldn’t skimp on the delightful combination of texture and flavour the crisps provide.

Delicious, healthy and nutritious! Enjoy!

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