Soup's up
Soup's up
Image: 123rf

Am I the only one surprised at how quickly we segued into soup weather in Joburg?

My dear friend Bailey will laugh when she sees this, because when we started working together, she wrote a Post-it list of things I do not eat and soup was at the top. Our friendship, marked with culinary delights, has opened up my palate to a few things, soup being one of them. Bailey eased me into it, starting me out on broths. I like to see my soup and what’s in it.

Many years ago, when we first moved to Joburg, we were invited to a neighbour’s home for dinner and they had made butternut soup. My mother didn’t make soup much. The soupiest thing I ate as a child was umnqusho (samp and beans), served with bone soup. I always ate my umnqusho dry, so I never knew what that combo tasted like. But my sister loves it to this day.

Back to the dinner. I was wise enough to say, no thank you to the butternut soup, but I watched as the rest of my family politely grimaced at what seemed like a ceaseless sea of orange on their plates. I asked my older sister for a taste and it was super creamy. In short, cream sums up some of my culinary dreads. How did I live in France, I sometimes ask myself.

My hesitance for soup was formed around that experience. It was restored, however, after my friend’s 45th birthday celebration in Stellenbosch. I wanted a light dinner on the Sunday night after the party and they made a curried butternut soup that changed my initial views.

Bailey’s baby shower saw me trying out a cold pea soup, which was one of the most delightful green things my palate has sampled.

My mother always made sure we ate at home and that we ate before leaving, even when visiting other family members, so I’m accustomed to making things at home. There is a comfort and trust to it, and I have revisited my relationship with soup.

Bailey’s mother is a magician in the kitchen. I happily eat her food and trust whatever comes out of her pots. My friend shared a few delights of soups that her mom made when she visited her parents.

The gluten-free sorghum and quinoa soup
The gluten-free sorghum and quinoa soup
Image: Supplied

What caught my interest was a vegetable soup with grains. Sorghum and quinoa sit well in the tummy. The wellness girlies will be thrilled to hear that it’s also gluten free. Sorghum is an ancient grain that has always been part of my life — my dad ate what we called “brown pap” when we were little. I was surprised to note that white people also eat sorghum. It’s one of those big city realisations that I still get even after many years in Joburg.

This soup is a soother. The pesto-like drizzle to finish is a wonderful addition to the flavour profile. The soup has texture. It must not be blended. I’ve walked a long journey with soup and this is a triumph.


  1. 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  2. 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  3. 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  4. 5 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
  5. 4 cloves of garlic (this is merely a suggestion, put more if you like)
  6. 1 ½ thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  7. Lemon zest of 1 lemon
  8. 100g of sorghum, soaked for minimum 8 hours and rinsed
  9. 70g of quinoa, soaked for minimum 8 hours with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  10. 125g of red lentils, rinsed and drained
  11. 2 ½ tsp ground cumin
  12. 1 tsp ground turmeric
  13. ¾ tsp of smoked paprika
  14. 1 dash of ground nutmeg
  15. 1 tsp ground coriander
  16. 5 tsp tomato paste
  17. ½ tin of chopped tomatoes
  18. 5l chicken stock (you can use veggie stock)
  19. 3 tbsp lamb tallow (I made my own from a roasted lamb shoulder)
  20. 2 tbsp olive oil
  21. 1 x 400g can of butterbeans
  22. Salt and white pepper

Leftover herb and nut drizzle:

  1. A good handful of herbs: flat leaf parsley, mint, basil
  2. 20g roasted macadamia nuts
  3. 1 tbsp pine nuts
  4. 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  5. Juice of half a lemon
  6. 1 tsp honey
  7. 3 tbsp olive oil


  • Soak all the grains the night before and rinse to prepare for the soup.
  • Precook the sorghum in a pot with three times the amount of water than the sorghum for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat the lamb tallow in the pot, on medium heat with the spices for one minute sothey do not burn.
  • Add the onion and cook until it becomes a little translucent — about four minutes.
  • Add the ginger, celery and carrots and cook for another five minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and lemon zest and stir through.
  • Add the sorghum and lentils to soak up the spices and flavour together with 1 tspsalt and 1 tsp white pepper.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and pour in the stock and ½ cup of water, bring to the boil, lower heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the quinoa and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add the butterbeans and stir through and then squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon.

For the drizzle:

  • Toast the seeds and nuts in a dry pan on high heat for about two minutes, until toasted.
  • Place nuts, seeds and herbs in a blender with the lemon juice and a teaspoon of maldon salt and ½ tsp white pepper and the honey.
  • Give it a few blitzes until the nuts and herbs are chopped.
  • Pour into a bowl and then spoon in the olive oil  to combine.

Dish the steaming soup into bowls and layer the drizzle over the soupy, grainy goodness at your whim. Drizzle with a little olive oil, a final squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of maldon salt to finish. Then enjoy.

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