We associate soup with the women who have helped to shape us along the way.
When we decided to host a “winter takeover” on the Food24 website, the Food24 team discovered we all had something in common: soup has played a role in all of our lives and we associate this comforting dish with the women who have helped to shape us along the way. So, in a final ode to our Soup Season takeover and in honour of National Women’s Day on 9 August, we decided to share some of our memories.
Food24 editor Lauren Goldman says soup has been part of various phases of her life. She remembers living off Cup-a-Soup and Provitas while at university, and learning to make soup as a child. “I’ve come a far way from the very first time I made soup – in a pan! I was cooking out of a British book, which mentioned a ‘saucepan’. The only pan I was familiar with was our frying pan, so I attempted to make the entire dish in that. Luckily, my grandmother walked in before I got too far and saved the day! These days, my favourite soup to make is butternut soup with coconut milk and a hint of red curry paste or chilli for some kick.
“Another fond memory I have is of my mom’s pea soup. When I asked her about it this week, she said it was such a ‘non-recipe’! It was the ‘busy mom’s’ recipe – come home from work, pop peas and water into a pot, and let it cook away while she got my brother and I settled after our long drive home. What I remember is that it was the perfect consistency and flavour: thick but not thick enough to be mistaken for a stew, and with lots and lots of black pepper that made it ideal on a cold winter’s evening.”
MUST-TRY RECIPE: Pea soup with spicy bacon
For Okuhle Nomana, Food24’s social media intern, soup also evokes memories of comfort and warmth after a long day at school. “I lived about 15 kilometres from my school and would have to walk to school every day. In summer, which is rainy season in the Eastern Cape, it would start raining heavily while you were walking to school and I would be soaking by the time I reached the school premises. Luckily for me, my grandmother lived just a few houses from our school, so I knew I could go straight there after the school day if it looked like it was going to rain again. And she would have a hot pot of chicken soup and a fire going. With a beaming smile, she would welcome me with open arms, and we would sit down around the fireplace, enjoying some soup and childhood stories about my mom. As we chatted and laughed, the rain outside seemed to fade away. These moments are engraved in my memory as some of the most cherished and comforting times of my life.”
Ishani Chetty, Food24’s social media manager, says that, to her, soup was synonymous with “home”. “My fondest memory of soup is when I returned from boarding school for the first time. I had left home at the age of 14 and was starting grade 10 at a school in a different country to where my parents were. It was the mid-year school holidays when I finally returned home. On my first day back, my mum made me a feast: a three-course meal of my favourite dishes. The starter, of course, was none other than my mum’s iconic butternut soup. I remember tucking in and the aromas of oregano, thyme and butternut with a hint of cinnamon crept up my nose, and at that moment I felt home. Her butternut soup forever reminds me that home is where she and her butternut soup are.”
Content producer Lerato Tlali’s soup memory is similar. “Ah, my fondest memory of soup will forever be the one my mom lovingly prepared for me when I returned home to Bloem from varsity for the June holidays. There was something truly magical about coming home, tired from the semester’s grind, and being welcomed by the aroma of my mom’s homemade lamb-and-lentil soup. It’s hard to say whether I cherished it more for the mouth-watering taste or the overflowing love that I know went into its creation. Either way, that soup became a symbol of her affection and the warmth of home.”
MUST-TRY RECIPE: Moroccan lamb soup with butternut and chickpeas
Food24 content producer Bianca Jones admits that she doesn’t quite get the hype around soup… “My mom always used to buy those veggie soup mixes and they always had a massive amount of celery leaves and turnips in them. She would then make a chunky veggie soup with stock – which I hated.”
However, when pressed, even she found one soup recipe that will forever be close to her heart. “There is a soup I did actually like growing up and my mom always made it for Christmas or special occasions. It was a thick, creamy cucumber soup. Sounds weird I know, but it was legit the best soup ever!”