Carrot, Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

“Family Week” is an annual event in the summer that Zen River has been hosting since 2005. Ten years on, some of the families who came then still come now. Together, they practice how to sit zazen (meditate), chant the sutras during services and eat oryoki style meals – all mixed in with theatre plays, stage sets and costumes, painting, yoga and exercise, and a casual, fun talent show. Everything is done under the careful supervision of Tenkei Roshi and the Zen River residents.

Family Week 2006

This is a soup I began to make during one of those weeks. At the time, many of the children were quite young, and some probably still picky about vegetables or herbs and spices. This creamy, bright yellow soup managed to fool even the smallest while making the grown-ups happy too. The blend of sweet potato, corn and carrots gives a subtle, sweet taste hard to resist.

The spices are kept light; a mere sketch to outline the rest of the ingredients, so feel free to increase – or decrease – them as you wish.

Family Week 2012

I like to scribble in the comments I receive next to the recipe in the tenzo note book. They help me remember whether or not it was a successful dish, if it needed more work, how it could be improved upon, or best be forgotten about all together!

This one reads;

Lovely soupsaid Hans

What a soup! (Was that soup?)” said Simon

So I dare to share it with you 🙂



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1 medium clove garlic
300 g (4 medium) carrots
300 g (2 medium) sweet potatoes
250 g (1½ cups) canned or frozen sweet corn kernels
1¼ litres (5 cups) water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin (more or less)*
1 teaspoon ground coriander (more or less)*
Dash white pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste
50 ml soy cream


  • Peel the garlic.
  • Peel and slice the carrots.
  • Have a bowl of cold water ready, then peel the sweet potato while dipping it into the water to keep the surface wet. Dice and put immediately into the water. (The water will prevent the surface of the sweet potato from discolouring.)
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, stir in the garlic cloves and fry until the surface begins to brown. Set aside.
  • Combine the water, fried garlic, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves into a soup pot. Put the pot over a medium flame and bring to gentle boil. Turn the flame low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and carrots are tender.
  • Stir in the sweet corn, cumin*, coriander*, and white pepper.
  • Remove the bay leaves, transfer the soup to a kitchen blender and whizz until smooth and creamy, or whizz directly in the pot with an immersion blender.
  • Stir in the cream.
  • Serve immediately.

*Family Week 2017 Tip: Try this combination of seasoning as an alternative: Instead of cumin and coriander, use about 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme and sage leaves and a ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.

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