Sweet Potato Soup with Walnut Pesto

This savory Sweet Potato Soup with a fresh Walnut Pesto Recipe is the perfect cozy comfort food for the colder months.

sweet potato soup with walnut pesto

There’s a change in the air – tis the season for warm, comforting soups and stews! And boy howdy am I glad. It’s been dang hot around here – hot as a snake’s arse on a hayride, if you ask me. So I’m certainly welcoming the cool breeze and teasing change of color in the leaves with open arms.

This recipe for Sweet Potato Soup with Walnut Pesto has been floating around my desk for nearly a year since a friend who had pulled it from a magazine passed it on to me. Not sure what publication it’s from. I think it’s Cooking Light. They always have yummy stuff, don’t they? I’ve adapted it because I like to break the rules, but it’s fairly close to the original. The difference is their pesto called for parsley, but since I have a bumper crop of fresh basil right now, I chose a traditional basil pesto base.

This soup is most satisfying. The perfect ending to a crisp fall day. No fancy ingredients with this one. And no fancy procedures. Some simple chopping is all. Chop leeks, sweet potatoes, and kale (or swiss chard). Or not, if you don’t like the leafy green stuff. But it’s good for you folks. Give it a try.

The soup comes together very easily. Basically, after sautéeing the leeks in some olive oil (Is there a better aroma people? I think not.), throw all the chopped ingredients in the pot, along with some broth, water, beans, salt and pepper. The full preparation instructions for the soup are below.

sweet potato soup recipe

And while the soup is simple and tasty on it’s own, the pesto adds that certain je ne sais quois to round out the flavor. Plus, I love pesto.

pesto ingredients

And pesto is so easy to make. Here, let me show you…

walnut pesto how to make pesto

By the way, the pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated, but it’s simple enough to put together while the soup is simmering. When making pesto, there’s no right or wrong order of chopping (as far as I know), but I always begin with the garlic and nuts, to make sure they’re finely processed to avoid any large bits. Follow the garlic and nuts with the sage, basil, salt, and cheese, adding the oil a little at a time when needed. Be sure to scrape the bowl of the food processor down a few times as you go. And that’s it.

Note: This pesto calls for omega-3 fatty acid packed walnut oil, but olive oil can be substituted just as easily.

Pesto is simple eats y’all. And scrumptious. Any pesto leftover would be fantabulous on bruschetta or some simple toast. It would. I promise. I wouldn’t like to you.

sweet potato soup

Serve this Sweet Potato Soup warm and topped with a big spoonful of the pesto. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite soup, chowder or stew to cozy up to this time of the year?

Sweet Potato Soup with Walnut Pesto
A healthy bowl of comfort food.
Serves: Makes about 6 servings.
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium sized leeks (2 cups chopped)
  • 28 oz. (or thereabouts) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 small-medium sweet potatoes (2½ cups cubed)
  • 1 bunch of kale, or swiss chard (4 cups chopped)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 – 15.5 oz. cans cannellini, or great northern beans (not drained)
  • juice of 1 lemon
For pesto:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 12, or so fresh small-medium sage leaves
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 4 tablespoons walnut oil (olive oil may be substituted)
  • ¾ cup Asiago cheese, grated/shredded
  1. Begin by slicing the leeks and sautéing them in olive oil in stock pot until tender.
  2. Add the chicken broth and water, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Chop the sweet potato in about ½-1? cubes, then add to the pot, along with the beans (and bean juice – don’t drain), salt and pepper. Cook an additional 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are just tender, but not mushy.
  4. Rough chop the kale and toss it in. Cook for about 3 minutes or until wilted.
  5. Turn off heat and squeeze in the juice from one lemon.
For the pesto:?(The pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated, but it’s simple enough to put together while the soup is simmering.)
  1. Begin by chopping the garlic and nuts in a food processor.* Make sure they’re finely processed.
  2. Follow the garlic and nuts with the sage, basil, and salt, adding oil a little at a time when needed.
  3. Add the cheese and blend well.
  4. *Remember to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl after each ingredient addition.
Adapted from Cooking Light (I think).

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  1. 1


    I was thinking that this was going to be more of a creamy soup, and when I looked at the pictures I got so excited! It looks incredible. I love the walnut pesto. It will definitely be debuting in my kitchen!

  2. 4


    Oh, yum! I had a sweet potato puree soup in mind, but this looks just as awesome, if not more. Great recipe! I never would have thought of this combo. 😀

  3. 5


    Your photos always make my jaw drop, Amy. I particularly like the one with the kale. What a fantastic idea to add a walnut and sage (yum!) pesto into this soup.

  4. 6

    Amber says

    That looks pretty darn tasty! I might puree it after everything was all cooked, just because I like my squash soups that way. It’s beautiful, though!

  5. 7

    SMITH BITES says

    you’re KILLING ME with the photos!! why aren’t you teaching this stuff, why??? soups like this one are my very favorites, but then again, i’m kinda weird in that i love veggies – and besides, how can you look at that photo and not want to eat that???

  6. 10

    Wenderly says

    Breathtaking Amy! I thank you for a warm savory soup that’s healthy! (My hips thank you too!)

  7. 11


    Great photos and soup recipe! I love the pesto on top! It was great to see you at BlogHer food. Next time, we need a girls trip so we can just relax and hangout..and catch up!

  8. 13

    Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food says

    This is just the sort of hearty vegetable soup that I love to make a meal of in fall and winter. Beautiful, and your twist on pesto is bound to add oodles of flavor here.

  9. 14

    the country cook @ Delightful Country Cookin says

    That looks wonderful. I love soups, especially filling ones with chunks of veggies in them. And I love the idea of adding pesto!

  10. 18

    Tickled Red says

    I just want to copy and paste Deb’s comment :) Dang girl that soup rocks!! Send me a bowl please.

  11. 19

    Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart) says

    Beautiful! It is not easy to take an appetizing pic of broth soup, but you have done it perfectly (I’m jealous!). I want that soup right now :)

  12. 25

    Sally from My Custard Pie says

    Chunky soups are great for this time of year aren’t they. Freshly made pesto brings this to life – mmmm

  13. 26


    What an amazing combination of flavors and textures you have here Amy. I absolutely love this! It has comforting written all over it. All that is a warm blanket and a cozy couch.

  14. 27


    This soup looks amazing. I saw it over at TK and was thinking how much I wished I had a bowl. Thanks for the recipe.. going to make it soon.

  15. 28

    Michele says

    Okay, so I just left you a message and then saw this recipe….I’m wiping the drool off of my laptop as I type this! I didn’t know you could make pesto with walnuts?! Anyway, I just wanted to comment, as someone who has looked at a LOT of photography (I mean a LOT) for a living; you are an excellent photographer! Why aren’t you doing that for a living?! I’m just sayin…

  16. 29

    The Lucky Wife says

    On it’s face, the name of this recipe sounded so ordinary. Then when I came to read the full recipe, wow, and YUM!

    I’d like to invite you to participate in Foodie Friday, to become a weekly Monday event after tomorrow. Thanks again for this recipe, definitely gotta try it.

  17. 30


    this sounds yummy. We were just talking last night about incorporating sweet potatoes. Hubby doesn’t care for them but I wonder if he’d like them in a soup.

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