Tag Archives: soup


12 Nov

Traditional Spanish gazpacho – a cold tomato soup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m a huge fan of Spanish food, and it has always been a life long dream of mine to visit Spain with my husband as part of an extended Mediterranean food-travelling mission.  I’m longing to experience authentic Spanish, Italian, and French cuisine right there where it all started. I want to meet the local farmers, producers and shop keepers and I want to eat with them.

When I think of Spanish food, I always think of traditional tapas like jamón, prawns and squid, but also of paella (especially seafood paella) and gazpacho. Gazpacho is a fantastic cold soup for summer, made with tomatoes, peppers, stale bread, olive oil and vinegar. It is texturally just a joy to eat, and a perfect starter to an extended Spanish summer dinner party. It is always best to chill it for a few hours in the fridge in order to give the flavours time to release their magic – it is even better the next day, and the next. So make it ahead of time and serve ice cold.

The beauty of gazpacho, to me, lies in choosing perfectly ripe bright red tomatoes. Don’t use pale pink tomatoes that have been refrigerated for a few days, I find that they lose quite a bit of flavour that way. Rather leave your tomatoes on the counter for a day or 3 to ripen fully before you make this soup. That way you will have maximum flavour – it really does make a difference!

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a starter)

  • 1 kg tomatoes, skinned*
  • 1 red pepper, seeds and pith removed
  • 1/2 small English cucumber, seeded and peeled (optional)
  • 1 large slice good quality day-old bread, soaked in water, then squeezed to remove excess water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red/green chilli, stalk removed (I also use the seeds, but you can remove these it you prefer)
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml apple cider vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • salt and black pepper


*To skin your tomatoes, use a sharp small knife to cut a shallow “x” on the bottom of each tomato. Heat a large pot of water to boiling point, then drop the whole tomatoes into the boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Quickly remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and drop them into ice cold water. Now peel off the skins (they should come off easily) and set aside.

  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber (optional), and bread into large chunks.
  2. Place in a food processor with the garlic, chilli, olive oil and vinegar. Process to a relatively smooth liquid, leaving just enough texture to your liking. I prefer my gazpacho a bit smoother than most people, but it’s up to you!
  3. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and add more vinegar or oil if necessary. Transfer to a suitable container for your fridge, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. The flavours will develop over time.
  4. Serve ice cold, with an extra garnish of chopped tomato, peppers or cucumber and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

 Note: The gazpacho in the photograph was made without cucumber. I sometimes add it, and sometimes don’t. The cucumber gives a great lightness to the soup, but if you prefer a deeper red colour, just leave it out.


This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Courgette soup with Boursin cheese

27 Jun

Thick, decadent courgette soup with Boursin cheese, perfect for Winter! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

My friend Francille told me about this soup recipe a few weeks ago while we were discussing Winter menus – she’s a serious recipe collector and her book collection puts mine to shame. One of her friends heard this recipe on the radio somewhere, and it was passed on via hearsay. So there’s no way to tell where it originally came from!

This is an extremely simple recipe, containing only 5 key ingredients: courgettes, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste and Boursin cheese – a soft and creamy French cowsmilk cheese similar to cream cheese. Boursin cheese can be found at most supermarkets with a well stocked cheese section, but if you cannot find it you can sibstitute it for plain cream cheese and some freshly chopped parsley & chives. The result with the Boursin cheese is just absolutely delicious, so make the effort to get a hold of it!

The result is a rich, thick and decadent soup with deep flavours – perfect as a starter if served in small portions, otherwise also great as a main course served with fresh artisanal bread like a proper sour dough. If you are counting kilojoules, don’t even bother – this one is only for those who love to throw caution to the wind!

This soup is a great reason to love Winter. Enjoy!


  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • roughly 750 g courgettes, sliced
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 150 g Boursin Cheese (garlic and fine herbs flavour) – OR 150 g plain cream cheese plus 30 ml chopped parsley & chives
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped parsley and/or chives for serving (optional)


  1. In a medium size stock pot, heat the oil and fry the garlic over low heat for a minute. Add the sliced courgettes and tomato paste, and fry for another minute, stirring.
  2. Now add the chicken stock and bring to the boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the courgettes are tender.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat, then use a stick blender to carefully blitz the soup to a very smooth consistency.
  4. Add the Boursin cheese, then blend again until smooth and creamy.
  5. Return to the heat and season to taste. Reheat until the soup just reaches boiling point, then remove from the heat and serve hot.
  6. Garnish with extra herbs if necessary.



This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

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Salmon bisque

18 Mar

A hearty salmon bisque from Savour. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

It’s time to start planning your Easter menu – no holiday can be complete without some serious culinary indulgence! Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be featuring 3 recipes from 3 cookbooks, all available from Poetry stores as part of our special Easter collaboration.

First on the menu is a thick salmon bisque, the recipe taken from Savour by Marc Hirschowitz, Karen Alsfine and Estelle Sacharowitz. This hearty soup is perfect as a starter, but can easily be eaten as a main course served with freshly baked bread. The most interesting part of this recipe is that it is made with tinned salmon and tinned cream of tomato soup – basic pantry ingredients that makes this dish also possible on a camping trip! But if you have access to great fresh salmon, fresh tomatoes and cream, it would take the soup to new heights.

The recipe states that you can serve it chunky or smooth – I prefer a smooth and thick bisque, easily achieved with the help of a stick blender.


  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 30 ml cornflour
  • 500 ml milk
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes, crumbled
  • 1 x 415 g tin salmon, deboned and flakes (or 400 g flaked cooked salmon)
  • 1 x 400 g tin cream of tomato soup (or 400 g skinless grated tomatoes with 1/4 cup cream)
  • 5 ml sugar
  • 2,5 ml Worcester sauce
  • 8 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 10 ml finely chopped fresh chilli
  • 30 ml sherry
  • fresh cream for serving
  • chopped parsley for serving
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly ground red peppercorns for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, then add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Fry over medium heat until they are soft.
  2. Add the cornflour, then stir. Now slowly add the milk and stir well. Add the crumbled stock cubes and stir well.
  3. Add the flaked salmon and stir well. Add the tomato soup (or fresh tomatoes and cream), sugar, Worcestershire sauce, spring onions and chilli.
  4. Add the sherry and stir, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the soup thickens.
  5. If your soup is too thick, add more water of milk. If you like a smooth consistency, use a stick blender to create a smooth texture. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with a swirl of cream and some chopped parsley (and optionally freshly ground red peppercorns).


Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Homeware and linen: Poetry stores, ranging from R99-R299.

Recipe from Savour, available from Poetry stores at R350.


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Beetroot soup with Greek yoghurt & chives

4 Feb

Organic beetroot soup with Greek yoghurt & chives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

My friends at Genesis Farm surprised me the other day with another basket full of beautiful organic vegetables: an assortment of chillies, some quirky-looking carrots, perfectly round squash, a few large beetroots, and the most beautiful red noodle beans that looked like purple little snakes!  It’s always such a treasure to cook with organic produce that’s just been picked from the farm.

The first thing I made was a summery beetroot soup – something that’s meant to be eaten cold, but can also be enjoyed warm. The organic beetroots were just so sweet and full of flavour, and really didn’t need a lot of work to be turned into something special. And the colour is quite spectacular!

This is my version of a cold, summery beetroot soup – perfect for a light rustic lunch, yet striking enough to serve as a starter at a fancy dinner table. Add a dash of good quality vodka to turn it into a classic Russian “borscht”.


  • 6 large organic beetroots, trimmed and washed (not skinned)
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 30 ml chopped chives
  • 50 ml double cream Greek yoghurt (or crème fraiche)
  • 50-100 ml cream (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, add beetroot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 60 minutes until tender (smaller beetroot will cook quicker). Remove from the heat, then drain water and let it cool until easy to handle.
  2. Remove skins (they should come off quite easily if just nudged with your fingers). Don’t worry if your hands stain, just wash them well with soapy water afterwards. The red colour on your hands should disappear after a few washes during the day.
  3. Cut the beetroot into smaller chunks, then add them to a food processor with the stock, lemon juice, chives, yoghurt, cream, salt and pepper. Process to a very smooth consistency, then test seasoning and add more salt/pepper if necessary. Remember, cold soup will need more seasoning than hot soup.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve cold or at room temperature with a swirl of extra yoghurt or cream and some chopped chives.

Tip: If your soup is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock. If you are using small beetroots, start by adding less stock. The soup should be thick and really smooth, but not thick like baby food.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe.


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Creamy leek and potato soup

5 Jun

Creamy leak and potato soup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

These days I see bunches of leeks everywhere, so I figured they must be in season! I only recently became a real fan of leeks after eating them whole and roasted, with some extra butter and parmesan shavings. They are so simple, so tender and PACKED with flavour.

Make a meal out of these beautiful pale-green leafy veggies by turning them into a thick, creamy soup. I fry them in lots of butter over medium-low heat, then add potatoes, stock and cream. Leeks are so flavourful that you don’t have to be heavy on the seasoning. Puree and serve with nutty browned butter.

Now THAT, my dear friends, is the perfect dinner for Fall-time in the Cape Winelands.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 100 g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 600-700 g trimmed leeks, finely sliced (trimmed of the darker green leaves, so you only use the lighter parts)
  • 600 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you prefer)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 125 ml cream
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a medium-sized stock pot on the stove top, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and leeks and fry in butter on medium-low heat, slowly softening the vegetables without browning them. This will take about 10-15 minutes (make sure the leeks are free of any dirt before cooking them – some organic leeks might need a rinse)
  3. Add diced potatoes, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add stock, then cover and simmer until potatoes are completely soft.
  5. Remove from heat, then process to a fine purée with a stick blender.
  6. Return to heat, add cream and seasoning, and heat through (without letting it boil). Serve with browned butter and freshly baked bread. t

Tip: This soup should be a really thick liquid – not a paste. If your soup is too thick, add a bit of stock and mix very well.

Browned butter:

Browned butter adds an amazing nuttiness to anything – it almost tastes like caramel! It was Nicola’s great idea to add this to the soup.

Melt about 100 g of butter over low heat – the butter will separate and the butter solids will become darker until it smells deeply nutty and toasty. Remove from the heat and drizzle over the soup.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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Roasted organic tomato soup

20 Apr

Roasted organic tomato soup, straight from the farm.

Nothing beats fresh organic ingredients, straight from the farm, still warm from the sun. My friend John House recently surprised us all by buying a neat piece of land outside Stellenbosch, and starting his own organic vegetable farm. It’s been a year since John started to work the soil at Genesis Farm, and now his crops are standing tall with huge basil plants, different kinds of tomatoes, beautiful peppers and chilli’s, and all kinds of other organic produce.

You can immediately taste the difference in a freshly picked organic tomato, straight from the vine: it still tastes of the sun and the earth – sweet, intense tomato flavours unlike any store-bought fruit. So, with my basket filled to the brim with the reddest plump tomatoes, I knew I had to make a proper, chunky roasted tomato soup. I had eaten some really tasty tomato soup at Nook Eatery a few times, and knew they had the recipe posted on their blog. I took a few notes and adapted the recipe for what I had on hand. The soup is intense with real beefy tomato flavours, packed with umami. I used the tomatoes whole – no skins or seeds were discarded (but if you are a picky eater, feel free to push the cooked soup through a sieve).


  • 3 T (45 ml) olive oil
  • 200 g leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • about 16 ripe organic tomatoes (medium to large), chopped into chunks
  • 2 cans of whole Italian tomatoes, chopped into chunks
  • 2 T (30 ml) sugar
  • 1 T (15 ml) salt
  • 2 t (10 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T (45 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 T (30 ml) tomato paste
  • to serve: handful of fresh basil leaves, more olive oil and fresh cream


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a large heavy based pot on the stove top, heat olive oil, then fry chopped leeks, onion, carrot, garlic and thyme until soft and slightly brown (I didn’t chop it by hand, but used a food processor – saved a lot of time).
  3. Add the tomatoes (fresh and canned), as well as the sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and tomato paste. Stir to mix thoroughly. Transfer to a large deep roasting tray, then put in the oven to roast for 1 hour (stir after 30 minutes).
  4. Remove from oven, discard thyme sprigs, then process untill the right texture is achieved (I found that it stays quite chunky after processing, which is perfect).
  5. Serve with cream (I love lots of cream in my soup) and a dollop of basil paste.

How to make basil paste:

In a large pot, bring some water to a simmer. Have a large bowl filled with iced water ready next to it. Blanche the basil leaves for 3 seconds (not more, not less) in the boiling water, then remove at once with a slotted spoon and immerse immediately in iced water. Remove from iced water, lightly squeeze out excess water, then pat dry with a tea towel. Transfer to a food processor or pestle & mortar, along with enough olive oil to form a paste and a pinch of course salt flakes. Process/pound to a paste. Store in an air tight container in the fridge and use within 3 days.

(Contact John House from Genesis Farm on 082-215 6968. Their website will be live by next week.)

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Quick and smooth butter bean soup

9 Sep

Quick, smooth, butter bean soup - ready in 25 minutes!

To make a great soup, you need to start with great home-made stock. You also need time, because the ingredients need to get comfortable with each other in the pot, creating a marriage of deep flavours and textures. But for this soup, all you need is 4 cans of butter beans, some store-bought chicken stock, 2 onions, and a sprig of thyme. It takes 25 minutes to cook from scratch and is truly delicious!

I grew up with old-fashioned bean soup, made with lots of extra vegetables and meat on the bone. My Mom cooked it for hours to get that wonderful thick texture. I used to cringe at the texture of the beans though, and forced my Mother to push my portion through a sieve to eliminate any whole bean chunks. But the flavour was excellent, and today I would eat it without changing a thing.

So the thing is: if you don’t have a couple of hours to slowly cook your beans, opt for this great quick alternative. There is no compromise on the flavour and your friends will surely come back for more!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme)
  • 4 cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1,2 litres chicken stock (warm)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, fry the onions and thyme in the butter/oil over medium heat untill slightly brown and soft.
  2. Add the beans and fry for another minute.
  3. Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. With a stick blender, puree the soup untill smooth.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread.
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Moroccan chicken soup with couscous

14 Jul

Moroccan chicken soup with couscous

One of Mariah Carey’s new babies is called “Moroccan.” Not Morocco, Moroccan. Strange but true. It makes me pull a face that I hope will never be photographed.

This Moroccan soup has nothing to do with Mariah Carey or her twins, thankfully. But rather everything to do with the sultry and mysterious land of clay tagines, intricate red and purple tapestries, and spicy fragrant broths. […]

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Split pea soup with smoked pork hocks

20 Apr

With the African summer sun starting to fade, autumn comfort food is taking center stage in my kitchen.  My split pea soup with smoked pork hocks is a seriously simple, seriously tasty soup that is 100% fool-proof. The flavour that comes from cooking the smoked hocks with the peas creates a deep, comforting meaty soup that almost needs no seasoning at the end. You’ve got to taste it to believe it – a winning recipe! […]

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