Creamy Carrot, Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

Family Week 2006

“Family Week” was a summer event that Zen River hosted for 12 years. The kids practiced how to sit zazen (meditate), chant the sutras during services and eat oryoki style meals – all mixed in with theatre plays, stage sets with costumes, painting, yoga and exercise, and a casual, fun talent show. Tenkei Roshi and the Zen River residents carefully supervised everything. Many of those same kids now continue to come as young adults and join both sesshins and a new program called Young Minds.

Family Week 2012

This is a soup I began to make during Family Week. As they were all still quite young – and some probably picky about vegetables, 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 potatoes, carrots and corn 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.

I like to scribble in the comments I receive next to the recipes in my tenzo note-book. They help me remember whether 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 read;
“Lovely soup” said Hans.
“What a soup! (Was that soup?)” asked Simon.


1 medium clove garlic
350 g (4 medium or 213 cups) carrots
350 g (2 medium or 213 cups) sweet potatoes
170 g (1 cup) canned or frozen sweet corn kernels
1¼ litres (5 cups) water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Dash white pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste
250 ml (1 cup) soy cream or milk


  • 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 discoloring.)
  • 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 about 5 minutes, until the sweet potatoes and carrots are tender.
  • Stir in the sweet corn, nutmeg*, and white pepper.
  • Remove the bay leaves, transfer the soup to a kitchen blender / food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, or whizz directly in the pot with an immersion blender.
  • Add the sage and thyme.
  • Stir in the cream or milk.
  • Serve immediately.

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