Cold weather calls for a great big steaming bowl of soup


PROBABLY one of the most warming of winter dishes is a bowl of soup, hearty, healthy and quick and easy to make. It’s also filling – especially when enjoyed with a wedge of fresh bread – and can be an inexpensive yet nutritious meal, sometimes consisting of only a few ingredients.

It’s no wonder then that it’s been around for years. Indeed, evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20 000 BC. The word soup comes from the French soupe (soup or broth), which in turn comes from the Latin word suppa (bread soaked in broth).

There are hundreds of soup recipes using a wide variety of ingredients, and while most South Africans enjoy the likes of butternut soup, chicken soup, mushroom soup, vegetable soup or tomato soup, there’s a whole heap of other, slightly more unusual ingredients out there that people are using to make some very weird soups.

These include chocolate ramen soup – the basis of which is noodles, egg, vegetables and … chocolate;  Kiburu soup from Tanzania made predominantly with bananas, coffee and … dirt! Apparently, the dirt is the secret ingredient and adds a salty, earthy taste; beer soup, invented by the Germans (who else?), made from a roux and the main ingredient … beer;
bird’s nest soup, made from the nest of swiflets, which are made from the saliva of the birds; Menudo – originating from Mexico, it’s used to cure hangovers and apparently tastes excellent. The main ingredient is cow’s stomach which is simmered gently for hours to create rich and meaty flavours; and chicken’s testicle soup. Thanks, but no thanks.

While we can’t share recipes of any of these bizarre broths, here are some far more tasty soup recipes from three chef lecturers from Capsicum Culinary Studio, SA’s largest culinary school with six campuses across the country.

CURRY TOMATO SOUP (courtesy Capsicum’S Durban campus)


450g can diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 Tbsp butter

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup vegetable stock

½ tsp curry powder

1 tsp lime juice

Handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

Sour cream


Preheat oven to 220°C. Spread the drained tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast until the tomatoes start to brown and shrink slightly, about 20 minutes.

Heat butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the celery, carrot, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Mix in the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juice and the stock and simmer until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Place pumpkin seeds in a small pan and toast in the oven (10 minutes) when roasting the tomatoes.

Stir in the curry powder and lime juice, then remove from heat and puree with a hand blender until smooth.

Serve with a swirl of sour cream, a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds and a slice of fresh baguette.

THAI INSPIRED PUMPKIN SOUP (courtesy Capsicum’S Cape Town campus)


1 medium sized pumpkin

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste

2 Tbsp lemongrass

1 litre vegetable stock

400ml coconut cream


Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cut pumpkin in half and place on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft.

Add a little oil to a large pot and toss in the chopped onion and the curry paste and sauté on medium-high heat until onion softens.

Add the lemongrass, stock and coconut cream.

When ready, scoop the cooked pumpkin off the skin and add to the pot, simmering for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat allowing soup to cool. Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

Blend, using a stick blender, until smooth and creamy and reheat briefly before serving.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup (courtesy Capsicum’s Boksburg campus)


1 onion

1 tsp olive oil

½ medium broccoli, chopped

½ medium cauliflower, chopped

1 litre vegetable stock

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Maldon sea salt and ground black pepper

1 tsp thyme, fresh or dried

1 tbsp basil, fresh or dried

175ml cream

Shallots (optional)

Feta cheese (optional)


Chop the onion, place in a big pan with the olive oil and cook on a low-medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.

Roughly chop the broccoli and cauliflower. (Save a few broccoli florets for garnishing.)

Place the broccoli and cauliflower into the pan, add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the cream. Then add thyme, basil and mustard and stir well to incorporate the flavours

Blend with a hand blender.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with small florets of steamed broccoli and finely chopped shallots or crumble feta cheese on top for a creamy finish.

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