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A Fresh Twist on Summer Soups

Get ready to try a unique summer recipe: Summer Sweet Potato Soup with red lentils and cucumbers. It may be a little difficult to imagine what this will taste like, but it’s received some good reviews in my neighborhood! Like the best summer soups, you can serve this dish slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Yes, I love watermelon soup and gazpacho, but Tom and I want a heartier meal at dinnertime so we can sleep through the night without waking up hungry at 3 a.m. So many summer soup recipes you find online look lovely and delicious—but read a list of the ingredients and you instantly know that they may be pretty to look at and quite tasty, but they’re not especially filling. From a culinary perspective, watermelon soup and gazpacho are like ’90s cliches, right alongside the movies Forrest Gump and Groundhog Day. Sweet but no longer intriguing!

Gazpacho involves lots of tomatoes, and many people following Ayurvedic wisdom have discovered that if they have arthritis, chronic pain, or acidity problems, they are better off if they avoid tomatoes. Tomatoes can aggravate all these health issues because tomatoes increase pitta and inflammation. (So sorry!)

Watermelon is a great treat when eaten on its own—at least an hour before or after a full meal. But for people with delicate digestion, eating this appetizer soup at the beginning of a meal can cause indigestion, diarrhea, or hidden toxicity. (Again, my regrets.)

Although some Ayurvedic practitioners will tell you to eat a light meal at night, I know from experience that people with vata problems should be careful not to eat too lightly in the evening. We vatas have enough trouble sleeping at night as it is. Vata energy needs to be grounded, and this Summer Sweet Potato Soup will do just that—while, at the same time, keeping you cool enough for summer heat.

For one thing, sweet potatoes are grounding foods because they are heavy, at least by vegan or vegetarian standards. The soup’s red lentils (masoor dal) add protein and iron as well as bulk, making this an easy one-pot meal. At the same time, the soup includes coconut milk, cucumbers, and cilantro—three foods that cool the metabolism. This last can help keep pitta managed during the hot days of summer.

Enjoy this vegan Summer Sweet Potato Soup as you begin celebrating the joys of summer!


PS Looking for more delicious summer soups? You’ll find my all-time favorite Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk on page 99 of Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook. Or Put summer soups in the search bar at FOOD | HEALTH | SPIRITUALITY – Sacred & Delicious (


Vegan, Gluten-Free

Preparation Time: About 40 minutes, plus time to cool
Serves 4

The directions below are for a puréed soup, though if you prefer chunky soups, you can easily skip that step.

1 leek
2 fennel stalks or celery stalks
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons coconut or almond oil
1 cup red lentils
2 cups Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
3 cups water
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 to 5 mint leaves
1 medium to large cucumber
2 cups coconut or almond milk
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. Wash and slice the leeks and celery. Peel the sweet potato, cut it into ½-inch rounds; then quarter the rounds.

2. Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger soup pot on medium. Add the leeks and celery and cook until the leeks turn golden. While they are cooking, rinse and strain the lentils. One the leeks are golden, add the vegetable stock, water, lentils, and sweet potato. Bring the pot to a boil on high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, until the lentils break down and the potatoes are tender.

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic. Rinse and chop the cilantro and mint. Peel the cucumber, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon, and dice the flesh.

4. When the lentils and potatoes are well cooked, add the garlic, salt, cilantro, mint, and the coconut or almond milk, along with 1 tablespoon of lime. Purée the soup with an immersion blender or wait until it cools some to put into a blender. Add more salt and lime to taste. Serve at room temperature or slightly cooled, topped with cucumber chunks.

If you have trouble digesting cucumbers, you may want to double the garlic and add a pinch or black pepper or omit the cucumbers.

Double the garlic, add a pinch of black pepper, and avoid the cucumbers if you have any cold symptoms.

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