Seven-Bean Karoo Boontjiesop

By Gordon Wright 12 July 2019

Gordon Wright's boontjiesop, from his book Veld to Fork. Photo: Sean Calitz

This heroic Karoo soup comes from Gordon Wright’s best-selling cookbook Veld to Fork and is his painstaking adaptation of the classic old Karoo boontjiesop to turn it into something truly special, totally ‘Karoo’ and an African dish to boot.

This is the full Monty version that I used in my restaurant, so you may not have access to all the ingredients, but feel free to experiment with your own version and add or substitute ingredients from what you have available, in the finest soup-making tradition.

3 litres water

1 litre good-quality chicken or vegetable stock

100g each dried haricot beans, sugar beans, butter beans, kidney beans, jugo beans (African groundnuts), cowpeas and black beans (or any other combination of good dried beans you fancy)

250g soup mix (you can buy packets of this at most supermarkets; it’s essentially a combination pack of dried lentils, split peas, barley, etc.)

300g pork trotters (ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you – these add natural gelatine for thickening the soup and, of course, buckets of flavour)

6 cloves garlic, peeled

5 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1kg venison meaty bones (beef or lamb shank will also work)

250g roughly chopped bacon

500g marrow bones

1 handful each fresh rosemary and oregano

15ml mild curry powder

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

1 large aubergine, peeled and chopped (this too will help thicken the soup but be sure to peel and chop at the last minute before adding to the pot as it tends to go brown if you leave it exposed to air)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pre-soak the beans in cold water overnight. Drain. Fill a large saucepan with the water and stock. Add all the ingredients. Ensure that everything is well covered; if not, top up with more water. Bring to the boil.

Once boiling nicely, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is falling off the bones and the beans are soft. Remove all the meaty bits/bones and place them to one side to cool.

Once cooled, cut off all meat from the bones, remove the marrow and chop up into small pieces. Return the meat to the pot and give the bones to your dog.

Give the soup a good stir, taste, add salt and pepper as necessary and you are good to go.

Serve with hot crusty bread, a good grind of black pepper and a nice sherry at the fireside. DM


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