Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup

Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup
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moroccan sweet potato soup
Moroccan? Maybe. Good? Yes!

Two things came together for this soup. First, we picked up more sweet potatoes from the CSA this week, bringing our total to six. That might not seem like very many, but, for two people, six largish potatoes are a bit much, especially given the other produce we have to eat this week; we try to eat almost everything from our CSA share on a weekly basis. Why have fresh food that you don’t eat fresh? The second thing is a bit more mundane. We happened to have Ellen Brown’s book Soup of the Day, on hand, and, when we thought of the sweet potatoes, we also wondered, is there a sweet potato soup that sounds interesting and different that we can make?

There was, Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup. Now, we have no idea if this is a traditional Moroccan soup or not, but we’ll just assume that it is. But we will say that we changed the recipe just slightly, including a secret ingredient most home cooks don’t use, but should.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup

Yield: 3-4 servings

Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs harissa, or to taste
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Dried chervil for garnish

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a medium bowl, toss together potatoes, shallot, olive oil, and salt until coated. Transfer to prepared pan. Roast for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and corners are browned.

In a large kettle, combine honey, harissa, roasted vegetables, and stock. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft.

Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Return to pan, add vinegar, and gently warm as needed.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with chervil.

Ingredient discussion:

No, the secret ingredient is not harissa, which is a spicy red pepper paste from North Africa. If you can’t find it, you can learn how we scratch out our own version of harissa. The secret ingredient is vinegar. Everyone knows to season with salt and pepper, but not too many people know to season with vinegar. Yes, season with vinegar. Almost all dishes — maybe not ice cream — are improved with a bit of vinegar to brighten up and bring out flavor. It’s a trick that all chefs use. So, yes, start breaking out that bottle of vinegar when you’re scratchin. Finally, we didn’t use a shallot for our soup: instead, we used some I’itoi onions that we had on hand; they have a nice shallot-like flavor.

Procedure in detail:

making stock
We added a carrot to our weekly saving of vegetable scraps for making stock.
coffee filter in funnel
We place a coffee filter in a funnel to strain stock.

Make stock. Easier than you might imagine. You can either use our recipe for roasted vegetable stock, or you can do as we do most of the time and save your vegetable scraps for a week, simmer them in water for 45 minutes, and strain. Either way, freshly-scratched stock is a better choice, and tastier, than buying stock at the store.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of  parchment if you want easy cleanup.

tossing vegetables with oil
The oil helps hold in moisture so the roasted vegetables cook without drying out.

Toss vegetables. Place the chunks of potatoes in a medium bowl along with the shallots. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Give everything a good tossing to coat. Spread them out on the prepared baking sheet.

roasted sweet potatoes
Not too brown; you’re trying to keep the color of sweet potatoes in the soup so you don’t have a muddy brown soup.

Roast vegetables. Place the sheet of vegetables in the oven and roast until the corners of the sweet potatoes start to brown and the shallot and potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. We would err on going longer to increase the roasted flavor.

Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are almost mushy. The better for blending, of course.
Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are almost mushy. The better for blending, of course.

Simmer soup. Place the honey, harissa, roasted vegetables, and stock in a large kettle over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the potatoes are very soft. Just about falling apart soft. This should take 20 to 30 minutes.

Blend, blend, blend. Just keep blending until your soup is velvety smooth.
Blend, blend, blend. Just keep blending until your soup is velvety smooth.

Purée. Working in batches, if necessary, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Super smooth is the texture you want, so let that blender do the work. And, don’t forget, blending hot liquids can cause the lid of a blender to shoot off, spraying everything with boiling hot liquid, so be careful. Once puréed, return to the kettle and warm as needed.

seasoning soup
Always taste while you season, and don’t forget to use a bit of that secret seasoning: vinegar.

Season. Taste, add the secret ingredient, the vinegar, and taste again. See. See. It does make a difference, right? If needed, add more vinegar, though not too much, as you don’t want to taste it, but just the increase in flavor that comes with the added acid. Add the salt and pepper in the same way, tasting after each addition. Continue warming the soup, if needed.

garnishing soup
If practice makes perfect, we’ll need more before we can garnish our soups perfectly.

Serve. Ladle into bowls, and, since this is a spicy soup, a dollop of sour cream will do wonders by adding a cooling note to tame some of the harissa. If you wish, you can garnish with a sprinkle of some mild green herb; we used a bit of dried chervil. Fresh would’ve been better, but we have dried.

First, anytime you see harissa in the ingredients list, you know you’ll have something spicy and hot. But, that’s not what you taste at first. Instead of heat, this soup has a nice, sweet flavor. Not too sweet, but a subtle sweetness from the potatoes and the honey; after that, you get hit with the chili pepper spiciness of the harissa. We were glad we had sour cream on hand to have with the soup. While not our favorite soup, it’s pretty easy to make, so we’ll say four stars.

Worth the trouble?

3 Replies to “Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup”

  1. My memories of sweet potatoes are linked to the Thanksgiving creation of that melted marshmallow-topped, concentrated orange juice sweetened, goodness (sic) that wasn’t, for me at least, to continue be very enjoyable by the time I was a teenager. On the other hand, I’ve had, admittedly on rare occasion, a tasty sweet potato soup, somewhat reminiscent to those achieved with gourds like butternut squash, so I’m intrigued by your recipe. I agree with the innuendo that the Moroccan aspect of this one is vague, i.e. it includes none of the expected Moroccan spices(?). I’d probably experiment with adding some cinnamon and a tiny bit of clove, though there is certainly an argument for keeping the flavor pure.

    I really like your comment about adding vinegar to recipes. I think it’s a bit broader than that, isn’t it? I find that a small dose of acidity (vinegar, orange or lime juice) and a tablespoon of raw sugar (or honey here) can really brighten up flavors, and, in effect, substitute for some salt that we might otherwise add.

    Thanks again for this remarkable blog!

    1. It is indeed the acid (any sort of acid) that brings out the flavor, just as salt brings out flavor. It’s odd, because as far as I can determine most chef’s seem to use some sort of acid in nearly every dish — just as they use salt — to bring out the flavor, but somehow that is lost in the transition to the home cook.

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