Mealie and sugar-bean soup

“Green mealies are completely different to yellow sweet corn," says Zola Nene, Expresso chef and the author of new cookbook, Simply Delicious. "The kernels are much bigger, the flesh is denser and the flavour is more savoury. We eat them straight off the cob either cooked on an open fire until charred and crispy, or boiled in salted water until tender and juicy. Sometimes, when there are mealies left over, my mom makes izinkobe, a fresh mealie and dried sugar-bean stew. This recipe is inspired by that dish – I’ve just added a touch more liquid and some spice, and turned it into a soup.”

Serves: 4


500 ml dried sugar beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 onion, finely chopped
30 ml chopped fresh thyme
15 ml chopped fresh rosemary
10 ml dried chilli flakes
1.5 litres cold water
500 ml fresh green mealie kernels
(To taste) salt and freshly ground black pepper
60 ml chopped fresh parsley


  1. Wash and drain the soaked sugar beans, then add to a large saucepan along with the onion, thyme, rosemary and chilli flakes.
  2. Cover with a litre of the cold water and bring to the boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 1 hour, topping up with extra water if necessary. Don’t let the beans boil dry.
  4. After an hour, add the mealie kernels and the remaining 500 ml water and cook for another 45 minutes.
  5. Season to taste and serve in large bowls with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

Extracted from Simply Delicious by Zola Nene (Struik Lifestyle). Photographs: © Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd / Dawie Verwey.


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