Sweet Potato & Miso Soup with Tiny Shrimp

President Obama is saying farewell―I’m already feeling the sadness of the loss. Of course, I know I’m not the only one. He and his family filled our lives with grace and intelligence these past eight years. He’s led this country in a nuanced and thoughtful manner. His signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has made a powerful, positive difference to our family and to our country. I’m fighting off the idea that it’s over now. While I know we are on the precipice of political upheaval in the United States and, perhaps, around the world―I know the hope and courage don’t live in a single person nor in a single administration. The hope and courage he instilled in us is still alive and well. I plan to honor his legacy by continuing to fight for what I believe in—affordable health care for all, civil rights, free speech, and more. Anything less will not do. We are the change. We are the future. Yes we can.

©Sweet Potato Soup by Dena T Bray

Soup is a powerful antidote to the cold and any kind of sadness. This Sweet Potato Soup  is extremely simple to make. The potatoes are roasted to bring out their natural sweetness, then combined with fresh ginger root and Chinese five-spice powder. After simmering in a broth, the potatoes are tender enough to puree into a smooth and delicious dish. Topped with tiny shrimp and greens just before serving, this soup is hearty enough for to serve as a main dish. Add a bowl of steaming rice, more greens lightly dressed, and a cool beer or a glass of wine for a perfect meal.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Sweet Potato & Miso Soup with Tiny Shrimp

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter or sesame oil or a combination of both
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons miso
  • 1 cup tiny cooked shrimp
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • Handful pea shoots


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the sweet potatoes and place on a sheet pan or other baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut several slits in the skin of the potatoes. Place in oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Roasting time will vary depending on the size and freshness of the potatoes.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and cut into large chunks.
  4. In a large soup pot, heat the butter or oil or combination of the two. Add the garlic and ginger root. Sautè until the are fragrant and tender, just a minute or two. Add the Chinese five-spice powder and coat the vegetables with the powder. Allow to brown slightly being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the prepared sweet potatoes, broth, and water. Stir. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Add the miso, whisking it into the liquid. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then lower the temperature to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the soup from the stove top. Allow it to cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, purèe the soup until smooth. Return it to the stovetop and heat through.
  6. When ready to serve, ladle the soup into soup bowls. Garnish with cooked shrimp, scallions, and pea shoots.
  7. Serve and enjoy.


  1. This recipe is adapted from Small Victories by Julia Turshen. Her recipe calls for clams rather than shrimp.
  2. For a vegetarian soup, use vegetable broth and leave off the shrimp. Consider garnishing with fresh tofu or a chopped egg instead.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.