Oct 15, 2009


I don't regard myself as coming from a family of great soup eaters. It's not that we don't like it, we just seemed to usually eat something else. In the coldest part of winter though, my mother would occasionally put the largest brown pot we owned on the stove, cut up an array of root vegetables, add cups of soaked beans and lentils and bits of beef shin too. The pot would simmer away for about three days, slowly becoming thicker and warmer. We'd eat some everyday, with brown toast and hand of chopped parsley on top. Other soups featured too, but usually as once-off events: butternut, potato and an impressive mussel one too (basically the smoothed potato soup with more wine, a pinch of chili and of course mussels). In Matjiesfontein, one July, we ate something especially welcoming too - was it pea and ham?

Then yesterday I woke up with the start of a cold scratching down my throat. And I just knew my body wanted soup. A spicy curry too, but first soup. Inspired by this, I walked to the greengrocer, and invested in a bag of tomatoes. A bag of onions too, but that's a different soup, for another day. The halved tomatoes were roasted for an hour, with a touch of salt and pepper, and a scattering of garlic cloves for accompaniment.

When I could smell the tomatoes, a cooked a finely chopped onion in a knob of butter, with a couple of oregano leaves from the garden. Then the tomatoes and garlic joined it, soon followed by 3 cups of vegetable stock.

I left it, while I pretended to do other things. Much later, I put the stick blender in, and learnt that hot liquids should be liquidised with care. So I used more care, then cleaned up the splotches. If this was MasterChef I would have strained it, but instead I left it slightly rough, a bit heavier: the way I like it. Then a gloop of cream. I think I added too much, a mere glop would have been enough. Then a few more minutes on the hob, while I constructed some toast. It soothed.