07 October 2013

Miso Sweet Potato Soup

As promised, I am following up to the Golden Harissa Oil post last week with this soup recipe. But, I am guessing some of you may be turned off by it after seeing miso in the title. Maybe you enjoy miso soup out at Japanese restaurants but have not cooked with it at home because you don't know how to incorporate it into dishes or don't feel it is the most accessible for everyday cooking.

I only recently started using it myself, and I felt this same way beforehand. But guess what, it's not as mysterious and foreign as you might think. If you have a local store with a well-stocked Asian food section, then you have probably cleared the first hurdle of procurement. It wasn't until I kept seeing several good quality organic misos at my local natural food store that I decided to pick some up. And my first experience yielded amazing results, thanks to Heidi's walnut-miso noodles. Since then I've added it to various soups and tahini sauces.

Here's why I enjoy using it and think it is worth writing about.
  1. The paste form and flavor makes it easy to incorporate into a wide variety of dishes
  2. Its rich umami flavor is a quick way to add depth of flavor with little effort
  3. It is high in protein, vitamins and minerals (and probiotics - the good bacteria- if unpasteurized)

A thick paste made from fermented soy, rice, and/or barley or other grains, the flavor and color of miso varies depending on the ingredients used, length of fermentation time, etc. There are many varieties, the most common being white (light and sweet) and red (aged and richer) miso. I used a little of both in this soup because I had both on hand, and as I am still experimenting, I could not decide which was best. But either works well here, and I encourage you to experiment with the miso varieties you find in your store.

Notes About Miso
A few things to know about miso. It is quite salty, so go easy on it if you're watching your sodium levels. With that said however, additional salt is generally not needed where miso is added, so I feel the salt level is balanced out in the end. Additionally, do your best to source organic miso to avoid the inclusion of GMO soy and grain ingredients. And finally, only gently warm miso when necessary, as cooking it will destroy the nutrients and beneficial bacteria preserved/created through fermentation.

Miso Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4

1 Tbsp. ghee (butter or coconut oil also work)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (little over 1 lb.)
6-7 cups water
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4-6 Tbsp. miso paste (white, red, or a mix)

To Finish
Chives, chopped
Pumpkin seeds, toasted

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat ghee over medium heat. Add spices, stir to coat in ghee, and toast for 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic and saute for a minute. Then add sweet potatoes and water. Raise the heat to high, cover, and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes (or until the sweet potatoes are tender), adding the beans in the last 5 minutes. Turn heat off and blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender) until completely smooth. Pour soup back into the pot.

In a small glass mixing bowl, mix miso (starting with 4 Tbsp) with a ladle full of soup with a fork until miso has dissolved. Add this mixture back in with the soup, and stir to incorporate. Taste and repeat the process, adding more miso until the soup is seasoned to your liking.

Top individual soup bowls with chives, pumpkin seeds, and golden harissa oil.


  1. I'm really curious about the flavour of this beautiful looking soup. Can you still taste the miso? Sweet potato is a pretty strong flavour. X

    1. Hi Deena! I feel like the miso provides a more complex richness to the soup rather than being the predominate flavor. The red miso gives an earthy almost astringent-like contrast to the sweetness and mellows the strong flavor you're talking about. And the white miso adds more dimension to the sweetness, if that makes sense. They both complement the sweet potato in different ways, that's why I decided to blend the two. Let me know if you try it and what you think of the miso in it!

  2. Making this tonight. Thanks!

    1. Yay! Let me know how it turns out for you.


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