October 17, 2011

Sweet Potato, Cabbage and Pinto Bean Soup Recipe

One of the only things about summer I don’t really like is that I always want to make soup, but it feels inappropriate. Then, the cool winds of fall move in, and I definitely want to make soup—and no one will look at me questioningly if I do.

Soup is the perfect solution for using random ingredients you have on hand to throw something delicious together with hardly any effort. You drink a glass of wine, you chop some veggies while music plays in the background, and you start plopping stuff in a big pot. (I’ve only had one failed soup, and it involved me accidentally adding a large amount of puréed onion skins to the pot … I will say no more.)

I knew I wanted to make soup for dinner tonight, and I had one huge sweet potato left that I bought from a local farmer a few weeks ago. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite all-time foods, and cubed sweet potatoes are a mainstay in my fall soup creations. Who doesn’t love an ultra-nutritious, bright orange food that can keep for months and add a flavor punch to any meal?

Pile of Dry Pinto Beans

If you like to make soup, make life easier by having these two things on hand: homemade stock in the freezer and some cooked beans in the fridge. I often cook a small pot of dried beans on Sunday so I can add the beans to different dishes throughout the week. My pantry is usually stocked with at least five different kinds of dried beans. Using them instead of canned beans will save you money, and you’ll be certain you aren’t getting any leached chemicals such as BPA in your beans from the liners they use in canned products.

I cooked a pot of pinto beans last night, and I also had some cabbage on hand. Here’s what I came up with—and it turned out wonderfully.

Sweet Potato, Cabbage and Pinto Bean Soup

Bowl of Sweet Potato, Cabbage and Pinto Bean Soup


3 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
About 2 cups chopped cabbage
1 cayenne pepper, very finely diced (optional)
4 cups stock
1 large sweet potato, chopped into quarter-inch cubes
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup beet greens, finely chopped
2 cups cooked pinto beans, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped herbs for garnish (optional)


Heat olive oil in a deep, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, cabbage and pepper, and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add stock (I used chicken stock), sweet potato, corn, beet greens and 1 cup of the pinto beans. Put the other cup of pinto beans in a shallow dish and mash well with a potato masher. Add mashed beans to the soup and stir well. If your ingredients aren’t all the way covered with liquid, add a bit of water.

Next, cover the pot and cook on medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs, such as parsley or tarragon. Serves 4-6.

I hope you enjoy the lovely flavors fall brings by making a pot of soup this week.

Bean photo by Flickr/su-lin; soup photo by Doug Snodgrass


  1. Your soup made my sweet potato soup jealous. I was just about to ask you for a new post, thanks for this one!

  2. Whatever. You *know* your sweet potato and squash soup rocked. :)

  3. The soup looks and sounds delicious. If my radar is working properly today, I'd say it's about a 4 on the om-nom-nom scale. Props to Doug on the great photo, too.

  4. Indeed, this recipe is strictly for om-nom-nomnivores.

  5. have you ever substituted kale for the beet greens?

  6. have you ever substituted kale for the beet greens?

  7. sounds awesome! I'll definitely have to try this soon!