Nutty Sweet Potato Soup with Harissa and Spinach Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Nutty Sweet Potato Soup with Harissa and Spinach

Harissa is a smoky North African chili paste made from smoked chiles, olive oil, spices, and sometimes tomatoes. Heat and flavor vary from brand to brand. This recipe was made with a French-produced harissa with a mild heat and extra sweetness from tomatoes.



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2 Tbs. olive oil
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2 medium leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
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3 Tbs. tomato paste
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3 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
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1 ½ Tbs. harissa paste
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2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
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1 tsp. ground turmeric
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¾ tsp. ground cumin
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2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick (5 cups)
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3 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
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3 oz. spinach leaves, thinly sliced (2 packed cups)


1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leeks, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, peanut butter, harissa, garlic, turmeric, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and 1 1/2 cups water, and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.

2. Blend mixture with immersion blender, adding more water if soup is too thick. Bring soup back to a simmer, and stir in spinach leaves. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Information: 

3 g
Total Fat: 
8 g
Saturated Fat: 
1 g
16 g
0 mg
188 mg
3 g
5 g
Serves 8

Comments on this Recipe

Very tasty soup. I didn't have any sweet potato on hand so I substituted butternut squash. It is a thick soup so I too would thin it out a little with some extra stock or water. Will definitely make again and look forward to trying it with the sweet potato!

This soup was very good, although I should have added some more liquid after blending as it was quite thick. The harissa I used was fairly mild, so I passed around a shaker of Aleppo pepper so everyone at the table could adjust the heat. A little fresh-squeezed lemon added a crisp note to the sweet soup. This will be a repeat recipe for sure!

this sounds delicious

OMG! I just made this and it's sooo delicious! Perfect balance of sweet and spice and nutty. Definitely one in my repertoire from now on! Thanks!

Great recipe! My Harissa was old & moldy, so I subbed sambal olek & Spanish smoked paprika. I also used heaping teaspoons of turmeric & cumin & was very happy with the results.

Where are the nuts? I see some in the photo but not in the recipe except for the creamy peanut butter. Are they pistachios?

Very good. I used sriracha since I didn't have any harissa. It was a little too spicy but still delicious. Plan to try again using what the recipe calls for.

What can I substitute for the Harissa as I don't want to buy it just for this recipe. If I do buy it, where can I find it and what else would you use it for?

Delicious, delicious soup. Slightly sweet, nutty. Not too difficult to make. I doubled the recipe and my boyfriend and I ate this the entire week. I had some pre-cooked chickpeas and would add them in sometimes for extra protein.

I'm allergic to nuts. Do you think I could substitute tahini for the peanut butter?

Look so delicious!

Made this a little while ago. Delish!! A repeater, for sure.


Any suggestions for a new - vege?

I'll make this again! It's quick, tasty and interesting. The harissa I got (DEA) is much too spicy for the amount advised here; I used just under 1 Tbsp and even that was a bit much. I also subbed collards for the spinach and liked that quite a bit.

I made this last week and followed the recipe exactly, using spicy Mina harissa. I didn't find it spicy at all, but it's an excellent soup. I had considered using kale instead of spinach, but didn't, though I think it would work well also. Initially it was too thick, but I just added water so that I had a total of 10cups of soup, and the flavor is still excellent. I tried it without lemon the first night, but added it the second and it really compliments the flavors in the soup. I will definitely make this again.

Best soup ever! I haven't had much success finding harissa around here, so I made my own with red pepper (I'm not big spicy fan). I also substitute green onion or even regular onion for leeks. Other than that, I mostly follow the recipe. I probably add a little more onion and garlic because I love them. And as others have found, it sometimes comes out a little thick, so I add a bit of water as needed. It's great with lemon, but I also find it's lovely with a dab of sour cream (if you're not eating vegan-style). I get SO many compliments on this delicious, hearty soup!

For tonight

My boyfriend and I made this recently and it was absolutely delicious! We made our own Harissa paste and used kale instead of spinach. We were blown away by how delicious such a simple soup was!

I made it today and is best soup ever! Thank you!

This was easy to make and delicious. I had to go to a gourmet store to find harissa but it was worth it. This soup is sweet, nutty and spicy at the same time, as well as nutritious. The "hardest" work was chopping up the sweet potatoes and the leeks but you don't have to chop them too fine because it's all blended with an immersion blender anyway. This is a great warm-you-up soup now that winter's almost here.

I have made this a ton and everyone is always very impressed :) will def make again and I as well just made my own harissa paste, I actually keep the left overs and put it on sandwiches

OMG so delicious! I had been putting off making this, but I'm so glad I finally did. I found Harissa np and the recipe was easy to make. I used almond butter instead of PB, and added a dash of cinnamon. I spared a couple cubed sweet potatoes from the blender to add texture. I will add chickpeas next time for more protein!

Excellent soup! Great flavour. I substituted kale but I wouldn't recommend it, I think spinach would be better.

Will make this again. Added a touch of cayenne pepper to mine to give it an added kick. We all loved it.