sweet potato-greens-sage soup, adapted with love

‘CAN I HAVE YOUR RECIPE?’ friends ask each other, back and forth after delicious meals served with love and hopefully a side order of tasty conversation. But so often it’s not “my” recipe, or “yours” that’s on the table, but one that we have found in a cookbook that became identified with us by those we served it to—friends and family who ask us to make “our” dish again. The actual provenance, though, remains the same: “My” sweet potato-greens soup with sage and garlic is actually Anna Thomas’s Green Soup With Sweet Potatoes and Sage, from her James Beard Award-winning cookbook, “Love Soup.”

You’ll notice that I said sweet potato-greens soup in the headline, though Anna Thomas’s original has it the other way round, with the greens first. I suspect her soup is greener in color than mine comes out, too. That why I say mine is an adaptation (that, and the fact that once I read a recipe and follow it the first time, I rarely look again, and just keep on adapting).

my version of sweet potato-greens soup with sage

Note: This soup freezes very well, but as with all soups, I refrigerate it for a day first to let the flavors meld.


  • 1¼-2 pounds sweet potatoes (Anna recommends 1¼; I use about 2 to shift the flavor and color balance)
  • 1½  tsp. sea salt
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. sage leaves chopped
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • black pepper
  • really good olive oil for garnish


Peel and cube the sweets, and put them with the chopped sage and the salt in a big pot, adding 3 cups or so of water over them, and simmering, covered, till soft.

Meantime saute the diced onions till soft and golden brown, in the olive oil.

Chop the washed greens coarsely while all that’s happening.

Add the greens and the whole garlic cloves and the broth to the sweet potato mixture, and let that all soften by simmering awhile longer, covered.

Add the cooked onions. (I deglaze the onion pan with a bit of the broth to get all the good flavor from the oil and onion bits, wasting nothing.)

Let the mixture cool enough to blend thoroughly. Using an immersion blender right in the pot, I puree the soup, and adjust the liquid if needed.

And then, as Anna Thomas says, drizzle with a fruity olive oil before serving. “This last step is essential,” she reminds us. Agreed. Drizzle away, and enjoy.

(I saw a variation Anna Thomas did on the “Eating Well” website, with spinach instead of chard and the choice of Japanese yams or sweet potatoes. You can find that one here if you happen to be long in spinach at the moment.)


how to win a copy of ‘love soup’

I’M CRAZY ABOUT BOOKS, and especially cookbooks (and field guides, and novels, and garden books, and … oh dear). Anna Thomas’s “Love Soup” is as good as it gets–about one of my favorite dishes, soup, and vegetarian and good-for-you fresh to boot. The million-selling author of “The Vegetarian Epicure” wrote another winner. Just answer this question in the comments below to enter [note: the giveway is complete, but your comments are always welcome]:

What’s the most popular soup in your house, and where did the original recipe come from?

Feeling shy (or no soup in the house)? Just say, “Count me in,” and I will.

Two winners will be were chosen at random after entries close at midnight Sunday, October 21, 2014. Good luck to all.

(Disclaimer: Any small commissions I earn from purchases made from Amazon links in this post go to purchasing the books I buy to give away.)


  1. Karen says:

    I would love a copy of the book. I am a vegetarian who loves all manner of soups. I think borsch is one of my favourite soups. Mine has evolved over time. I’m note sure where the recipe originated.

    1. Bonny says:

      I was excited to see the Sweet potato greens title. But wait! There are no sweet potato greens in the soup!!!!
      Why not sub in the sweet potato greens for the chard or kale? They are wonderful. Better than spinach. And perfect in soup.

  2. Nancy E. Sutton says:

    BTW & OT- re: your neighbor’s ‘big’ shallots, I think they are Figaro variety and Territorial Seeds sells them this year :)

    1. Deb Gearing says:

      I would love a copy of Anna’s Love Soup. I have her Vegetarian Epicure from many years ago. Right now our favorite soup is Lima bean and Barley soup and I actually don’t remember where I got the recipe. Thank you.

  3. Nancy Rose says:

    It is probably the red lentil with lemon soup Melissa Clark has in The NY Times. Soup is home to me and a great way to use up what doesn’t get composted. Count me in for the giveaway and I will look up this book regardless! Thank you.

  4. Grace says:

    Love the seasonal writing, makes me feel like I am gardening year round in zone 6. Not an easy task with inches of snow on the ground! Thank you for keeping the gardening spirit alive when it is buried under the snow.

  5. Geri Friedman says:

    I have both volumes of the Vegetarian Epicure and would love to get Anna Thomas’s soup book because I am a soup lover.

  6. Cathy says:

    Old fashioned winter time vegetable soup with lots of roots, onions, mushrooms, some beef & bones, whatever I have. No book. Love soup when the world is frozen.

  7. Carol says:

    Year round, each week I make a large pot of soup! It is always filling and satisfying and one of my favorite’s is Caribbean pumpkin soup!

  8. Sandy Lentz says:

    Thank you for the recipe and its story. I cook that way, too: follow the recipe exactly the first time, then begin tweaking.
    But Margaret, please, please don’t use a “bunch” as a measurement. Do you realize how many different amounts that can result in??? Please, use a more exact amount; weight is more precise, but even “two cups chopped” would be much more helpful.

  9. Kathy Hilmer says:

    The favorite soup at our house, hands down, is “Leek and Salmon Comfort Chowder.” It came from the Wegman’s Grocery Store in-house magazine in August, 2018. Besides the leeks and salmon, it calls for things like garlic, chicken bone broth, thyme, dill, and coconut milk. I’m with you in adjusting recipes, so I add some celery, spinach and/or kale, lemon juice, and add pre-cooked Acini de Pepe pasta and top with Italian blend finely shredded cheese before serving.

  10. Frances says:

    Best soup is made from vegetable broth or chicken broth and what ever veggies I have at hand or frozen. I love watercress in my soups. I sometimes add bits of cheese or an egg to
    add protein. Yes, I am not a chef. Just an old gal getting by!
    Love your blog. Used to garden more but pots are more my speed now!

  11. Dina Butler says:

    Hamburger Soup, from my mom. Not sure where she got it from. A hearty ground beef soup using whatever veggies are on hand. Good with dried bread and butter.

  12. Ann Capurso says:

    Boy did I goof this recipe! I really hesitated to eventaste it but it was really good! I have renamed it I call it Substitution soup

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