Sweet Potato, Lentil & Miso Soup with a Hazelnut, Mint & Parsley Pesto

Soup is my love declaration to winter. Although knits, snow, mountains and hot chocolates are just about the only things that get me excited for winter, warming up a pot of this veg-filled, hearty soup truly fixes (just about) anything. Other than that, I’m a true summer gal at heart. ♥ With my upcoming European adventure only a month away, I couldn’t leave without posting my favourite immune-boosting combination. It is sweet, salty and warming all in one beautiful hit.

Warming up a big pot of this soup every winter to share with your friends and family is so good for the soul and your body. If you’re feeling in need of a cleanse or a detoxifying meal, then this is your jam. Soups are much gentler and warming for your system therefore they can be digested easily by the body leaving you with a combination of healing nutrients cleansing your organs. I make this for dinner usually after a really rainy day and whilst it’s on the stove I’ll whip up this pesto using whole bunches of greens and a new Spotify playlist on repeat (and dance). 😉 This soup is also indicated if you really want something delicious to eat, which is good enough for me, just saying!

This pesto was created out of my love for parsley, lemons, mint and hazelnuts. *ahem that’s why I’m Hazelcoco* What initially was purely an experiment, turned into something delicious I now make regularly. Add a dollop to the soup when serving, lather it on anything that is edible and use it as a face mask. The lentils really bulk this soup out and add some protein, you can’t really taste them though which is great if you have a bit of an aversion to lentils. If you’re after some ‘food as medicine’ immunity, the onion, ginger and garlic which all contain antibacterial and antiviral properties accompanied by the alkalising greens in the pesto all provide the body with strength to prevent illness, promote healing and cleanse the body. Despite all these benefits, food for me is about enjoyment, pleasure and fun, so if this soup didn’t achieve those first primary satisfactions it would not have been posted. 😉

β-carotene – the Vitamin A powerhouse
I really cannot go past sweet potatoes, whether they are roasted as wedges, mashed or simply pureed into a soup, they are my favourite (along with 50 other foods have you noticed?) All orange vegetables contain carotenoids, specifically β-carotene, which act as precursors to vitamin A. Not all carotenoids express this ability but β-carotene most certainly does. They exhibit antioxidant activity, and aid in immune system function and vision (after conversion of provitamin A to vitamin A). Therefore, there is a lot to love about all my favourite orange veggies so definitely try to include a few servings of these body-loving vegetables throughout the week.

A few notes on the ingredients. As you can see I have suggested to peel the sweet potatoes and carrots, although these contain a lot of goodness, when the origin is unknown and you’re not sure where they were grown (which I admit is most of the time for me), then it is safer to peel. The miso paste is essential in this, please don’t skip it, although we are boiling it at this stage and the probiotic effects will be nullified, the taste is out of this world. I love Spiral Foods brown rice miso paste, which is readily available at Woolworths though any health food store will carry miso. Use your leftover miso scraped onto toast with avocado, tahini or hummus on top and use to make your own dip creation. Your jar of pesto can be used on anything from crackers, homemade pizza, wraps, zoodles, omelettes, quinoa salads, grilled fish, on a savoury pancake etc.. Leftover mint leaves make great tea when combined with lemon, raw honey and boiling water. If you haven’t realised yet I really want to encourage you to use ALL your leftovers.

Sweet Potato, Lentil & Miso Soup with a Hazelnut, Parsley & Mint Pesto Topping

Serves: 6 + (depending on your appetite)

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil/olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (approx. 1.3kg), peeled & roughly chopped into cubes
  • 2 carrots (approx. 350g), peeled & roughly chopped into cubes
  • 1 and a 1/4 cups of dried red lentils, rinsed (200g)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons red/brown rice miso paste
  • water
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the pesto:
(makes a full jar)

  • 2 – 4 garlic cloves, sliced (depending on your taste – I use 4)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts (approx. 65g)*
  • 1 bunch of parsley, ends trimmed off with leaves and stalks roughly chopped
    (yes, the whole bunch, approx. 130g/4 handfuls)
  • 1/2 bunch of mint, leaves only
    (approx. 50g/1 handful)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil + extra if needed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt/herb salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • pinch of pepper

*I’ve made this with pecans as well with similarly great results.

Make sure all your vegetables are chopped prior to beginning. Heat the oil in a large pot on low heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the chopped sweet potatoes, carrots and lentils and stir with a wooden spoon, coating the vegetables with the onion mix. Add the 2 heaped tablespoons of miso paste to the pot, and now add water. I haven’t provided measurements as the consistency is up to you, I find the perfect consistency to be enough water to just cover all of the vegetables in the pot. Give this another stir to break up the miso paste and combine it with the rest of the ingredients.

Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils have cooked (they should look soft). While this is happening, make your pesto. Add all of the pesto ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth making sure there are no green or garlicky chunks. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times. Truthfully, I use a hand blender for this process. Taste and adjust seasonings, add more olive oil if you like, I usually end up using 1/3 of a cup. Place the pesto in a jar and set aside.

When the vegetables and lentils are soft, use an immersion/hand blender and puree the soup until really smooth and creamy! If you have a blender you can use this (carefully). Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the pot and stir with a wooden spoon or blend again to incorporate that. Taste and adjust the seasonings, I find the miso gives it enough saltiness already. Ladle the soup into bowls, add a spoonful of pesto to the top of each bowl and swirl through. Enjoy!

The pesto keeps in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge, use for up to a week on everything.

Serve with: rye sourdough toast, lemon/lime wedges, greens (like arugula/rocket, watercress), dukkah, pepitas, #avoontoast + lemon or hummus + sliced tomato (use good quality bread/sourdough), sesame seeds, goat’s feta cheese etc.
* In the pictures I served it with homemade millet and zucchini toast.

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Useful links:

 

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