Ladles of love: Mokgadi Itsweng on the art of making soup

By Mokgadi Itsweng, 5 October 2023

Cookbook author Mokgadi Itsweng remembers learning the art of making soup – the perfect act of love and care – from her mother.

A bowl of soup has always offered comfort to anyone feeling down, sick, tired after a long day of travelling or a gruelling day at work. It offers a beautiful hug that nourishes body and soul. I’ve had enough good and bad soups in my life to know that making a great one takes patience, care and love. You have to keep all the senses in mind. Sight, taste, texture and smell all play a key role.

ALSO READ: Morogo magic: the budget-friendly indigenous ingredient

The ingredients must be fresh, carefully selected and picked in season. The layering of spices and flavour is the next step to building depth of flavour. I heat a little oil and add the spices first, allowing them to release their power. Then I add onion, garlic or leeks, followed by whatever vegetables I am using, lightly coating and browning them in the saucepan. A good-quality stock is added next – and this is what determines your soup’s deliciousness, seasoning it as it cooks low and slow. I add texture with grains, beans or crunchy vegetables (nothing kills a great soup faster than mushy veg with no character).

Pumpkin-and-millet soup

Find the recipe for pumpkin-and-millet soup here. 

Mastering a great soup is a skill that will ensure you are remembered long after the bowls have been washed and packed away. I learned to make a good one from my mom, whose famous pork trotter-and- bean soup was smuggled into Kgosi Mampuru prison to feed my father and his comrades who were held there for six months without trial during the 1985 state of emergency.

ALSO READ: 3 vegetarian recipes from Mokgadi Itsweng’s ‘Veggielicious’

Every time I bump into people who knew her, I hear stories of that soup and how much joy it brought them; all her love and care in a simple bowl. This year, I am celebrating her with a delicious bowl of pumpkin-and-millet soup, because 2023 has been declared the international year of millet by the United Nations. (Good news for me, as I love how versatile and delicious these grains are.) This soup also uses the whole pumpkin, including the seeds, to create a spectacular and unforgettable meal, just the way my mom made it.

Mokgadi Itsweng

Article by Mokgadi Itsweng

Former food editor of True Love magazine, Mokgadi has worked in the food industry for more than 17 years and is the author of Veggielicious – a collection of plant-forward recipes that’ll encourage even the pickiest eater to eat more veg. She is the Creative Director and head chef for Lotsha Home Foods and a member of The Chef’s Manifesto.
View all articles
Load more