Bowled over: For the love of winter soups and comforting desserts

When last did you have a great bowl of soup at a restaurant? For me, this doesn’t happen enough. The usual suspect of butternut makes a regular appearance on the menu, but on the rare occasion that I spy a French onion soup, I dive straight in!

Soup is such a simple and satisfying meal in a bowl, yet it can go horribly wrong, especially if your beef stock is weak. (It should always be rich and full of flavour, so avoid those salty cubes of instant stock and use the real deal if you can.)

Ladles of the three best French onion soups come to mind. The first can be found at Bistrot Bizerca: it’s full of soft, sweet, slow-cooked onions and is made the classic way with a slightly submerged gruyère cheese crouton on top.

Just down the road, Frères Bistro makes a luscious thick version of this French broth served in little pots. It really warms the soul!

French onion soup

French onion soup

It’s certainly the perfect time of year to enjoy this classic. During a recent visit to Hartbeespoort on a freezing night, I had dinner at Stef’s Table and was delighted to find onion soup on the daily menu. Stef adds a twist to his rendition with some spinach and hazelnut dumplings.

Another comforting dish that is rarely found on menus these days is a well-made bread-and-butter pudding. In fact, I can’t remember seeing one at all since I last ate Bukhara’s interpretation. They make a mean contender with soft, eggy, milky bread layered with apricot jam, raisins and custard.

It’s not always easy to do simple food well, but old family classics are a good bet – something like the dessert I had at Overture last year. It was based on a recipe for apple pudding that Bertus Basson’s mom used to make. Nothing fiddly, just good, honest, delicious food with an appealing hint of nostalgia that’s spiced with fond memories.

Keep warm.


PS) If I’ve got you in the mood for bowls of broth, you’ll appreciate our 12 winter soup recipes.

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