Winter dining in 2020 will both confirm and confound traditional notions of seasonal food. We flutter from the more practical peasantry dishes made to sustain and comfort, to pleasant polished morsels, meant to titillate, help diners journey, and it all now becomes a showcase for the senses.
The encouragements (and mandates) to buckle down for long-haul lockdowns, as part of the global pandemics preventative measures, has reduced our worlds, but cooked up an influence to have different experiences with food…to think, hunger, shop, prepare, and savour with more intent.
I’m lucky enough to have the option of cooking, ordering food via UberEats or Mr. D, and inventively, even indulge in altruistic “dining out”.
Amid my daily meals (ordered or otherwise), I really hung on to the belief that I wasn’t a soup person.
Growing up, it felt like the useless starter that just oiled the path of hearty mains. I have only changed my mind, truthfully, in the last couple of months social distancing.
Being fully in charge of my own eating habits (which, by the way, I’m so not a fan of the whole “adulting” thing still!) has meant more time considering the options shelved when grocery shopping monthly.
And as the Cape Town air began chilling, I eventually relented and started brewing up a selection of soups to try for my dinners.
First to try, was: Creamy Butternut Soup with cinnamon and nutmeg, and baby potatoes with fresh garlic and herb butter.
Butternut has its impression firmly planted in all manner of dishes – from starters to desserts, baked goods, and even pizzas. I’ve had generous summer salads, where the fibre-rich Butternut created balance among its tart and crisp companions, as well as inspired fine-dining creations elevating the butternut as the focal point – with the kind of creative finesse I imagine only renowned chefs like Grant Achatz have.
The rich consistency and flavor of this lacto-vegetarian Butternut soup, was actually surprising – warmly heady on the tongue and the nose. Teamed with the potatoes, this was a wholly filling meal to have executed easily. The fact that I can go a whole meal without meat, will never not be a small shock to me,
Anyway, then came the Moroccan Lamb Soup, with slow-cooked lamb & lentils.
I don’t think I actually have enough experience or knowledge, to even articulate how lamb looks or tastes differently, at the butchery. I just know when meat is not chicken, and when it tastes good.
Regardless of my questionable meat knowledge, I can confidently state that Morrocan Lamb Soup will easily leave you satiated. Of this low-fat Moroccan soup, there are many variations, including a sophisticated French take (think jalapeño, red kidney beans and green lentils) on another cowboy fare beef soup of similar design.
I thoroughly enjoyed every spoonful of these soups. When I tire of cooking and ordering UberEats fast-food, I’ll probably reach the point where I try the meal kits being sold by my celebrated local restaurants, but for now: we soup!