Souped up

By Kirstin Buick
19 July 2013

TV chef and blogger Sarah Graham shares two delicious soups for winter that are simple and fresh.

Sometimes, we need to celebrate the simple things in life. The gentle, quiet moments. I find that winter really draws this out of all of us. I think it’s because we spend so much more time indoors, quietly curled up, and have more time to be thoughtful and contemplative.

I love so many things about winter, the fluffy socks, more steaming cups of tea than usual, and, of course, the slow food that bubbles away gently and quietly. Food that is unceremonious but that takes time to turn into something glorious. And for me, one of winter’s great wonders is soup. It doesn’t have to be a gloomy mess in a pot, it can be a thing of great beauty, exquisite in its simplicity, but immeasurably satisfying. Here are a couple of my favourite satisfying soup suppers, I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Pea and Mint Soup with Bacon Croutons

Serves 4 | Preparation time 5-10 minutes | Cooking time 20 minutes

I love this soup. It’s fresh and can be on the table in 25 minutes. I know it sounds (and looks!) very loudly green, but once you get past that you’ll discover something enchanting.


1 T olive oil

4 spring onions

4 leeks, greenest ends removed and roughly sliced

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (you can use regular potatoes if prefer)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

800 ml vegetable or chicken stock

3 cups frozen peas

4 T chopped fresh mint

1-2 T fresh lemon or lime juice

½ cup fat-free natural yoghurt (optional)

a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sugar, to taste

For the bacon croutons

125 g bacon, cut into cubes and fried until golden and crispy


For the soup

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the spring onions and leeks and fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the potato and garlic fry for a further 3 minutes.

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and can be easily pierced with a knife.

3. Add the peas and simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the mint, lemon or lime juice and most of the yoghurt. Allow to cool for a few minutes and blend, adding salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

4. Reheat to serve or eat cold as an alfresco option. Garnish with a dollop of the remaining yoghurt, a few whole peas and a little chopped mint as well as the bacon croutons.

Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup with Gruyere Soldiers

Serves 4-6 | Preparation time 5 minutes | Cooking time 1 hour (effortless)


1 kg mixed tomatoes, roughly chopped (I use a mix of regular salad tomatoes and rosa tomatoes)

3-4 twigs of fresh thyme, or 1 level t dried thyme

1 red pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped (optional)

6-8 cloves garlic

½ t dried chilli flakes

2 T olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 t sugar

A good pinch of salt and pepper

2 c stock (I like to use lamb)

For the Gruyère soldiers

4 slices sourdough bread

1-2 T olive oil

¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese (or another hard cheese of your choice)

Generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the soup

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Place all ingredients except the stock in a roasting dish. Roast covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are roasted and starting to caramelise.

2. Remove the roasting dish from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. Remove the thyme twigs if you used fresh thyme. Then spoon the tomato mixture into a blender, blend until you achieve the desired consistency.

3. Just before serving, transfer to a large pot on the stove top, bring to the boil, add the stock and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the Gruyère soldiers.

For the Gruyère soldiers

1. Drizzle the sourdough slices with olive oil, sprinkle over salt and pepper and grated Gruyère shavings.

2. Place on a baking tray under a pre-heated grill for 3-4 minutes or until golden then slice into soldiers and serve immediately.

Sarah Graham

You can read more of my ramblings on my blog

You can buy my cookbook “bitten” in major bookstores in South Africa and online via my website

Watch my TV show “bitten – Sarah Graham Cooks Cape Town” on Sundays at 4 pm on SABC3.

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