Comfort in a bowl – Something meaty

2011-07-22 10:13

Hearty, delicious, old school. That is how the Lucky Bean menu describes chef Molly Chiwambo’s ­oxtail soup. It is rich with an ­almost sweet and sticky undertone cut through by the herbs.

“This is my 19th year in the kitchen,” says Chiwambo, who learnt her trade on the job at former Melville ­establishment Question Mark. She took a job there as a bartender, but says she wasn’t comfortable being in front of house until she’d worked her way through the back end of the operation.

“I started in the scullery. I wanted to know what a chef must know.”

She’s been cooking at Lucky Bean for six years – first as the right hand to the chef, and now as the chef.

“I learned from experience and when I was at home I liked to cook, of course. But I didn’t know it was where my life would lead me.”

The oxtail soup, which she makes every winter, was developed – like all her recipes – from studying books, debating with those she works with and ultimately the trial and taste process.

“We shift this and that, read recipe books, cook it, try it. I thought we should do oxtail soup in winter.

“This soup is best served with plain bread because it has thyme and rosemary in it,” says Chiwambo.

The oxtail
Ingredients (for six portions)

» 1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
» 1 large carrot, chopped
» 75g seasoned flour
» 100g tomato paste
» 500ml red wine
» 2 litre beef stock
» 2kg oxtail
» 3 sprigs thyme
» 3 sprigs rosemary


Brush oxtail with the tomato paste, dust with flour and roast in the oven at 180°C for 30 to 45 minutes. Sauté the vegetables.

Add stock and red wine, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the browned meat. Cook on a low heat for about three hours. Let it stand for 20 minutes and set aside a third for the soup.

The soup
Ingredients (serves four)

» 75ml sunflower oil
» 150g leeks, chopped
» 1 large onion, chopped
» 2 carrots, chopped
» 150g celery, chopped
» 3 tablespoons of flour
» 2 litre beef stock
» 2 tablespoons tomato paste
» 500ml red wine


Sauté the onion until caramelised. Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté. Remove, add the flour to the pan and brown gently.

Add the veggies, beef stock and tomato paste, and simmer for an hour.

Shred the cooked oxtail and add. Let the soup cook for about 20 minutes.

» Lucky Bean is on 4th Avenue in Melville.  011 482 5572

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