What’s cooking today: Chunky beans & ribbetjies soup

What’s cooking today: Chunky beans & ribbetjies soup
Beans and ribs soup. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Beans and mutton ribs. That’s a recipe for fending off the winter chill, right there.


2 kg lamb or mutton ribs

3 large onions, chopped

2 carrots, grated

3 leeks, sliced finely

1 stick celery, diced

3 Tbsp butter

4 rosemary sprigs

3 x 400 g cans sugar beans

1  400 g can black beans

1  400 g can red kidney beans

1  400 g can butter beans

2 Tbsp ground coriander

½ tsp nutmeg

3 or 4 litres cold water

Salt and black pepper to taste

Added milk (optional)


My recipe involves three stages: roasting the bones with the onions for two hours; transferring them to a large, heavy pot, adding all the vegetables and herbs and filling it to with water to cover, then boiling that down by half (the stock phase), finally adding the beans, bringing it to a boil, then reducing it to a simmer and cooking for another hour or more.

Roast the ribs and the halved or quartered onions for two hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool so that excess fat will settle on the surface and can be removed.

Chop the roasted onions and sauté in a big pot in butter with the carrots, celery and leeks.

Add all the ribs and cover with water. Add the rosemary, coriander and nutmeg and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. This should take an hour or more.

Use tongs to remove the ribs to a large tray with a wooden board on it (so that the tray will catch any juices that drip off the edge of the board). Leave it to cool enough to handle the ribs. Pick out all the bones you can find, then cut the rib meat into small pieces and return to the pot.

Add 1 can of sugar beans, the black, red and butter beans, the rosemary, coriander and nutmeg, season with salt and plenty of black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook gently for an hour.

Scoop off the fat from the roasting pan and discard. Ladle some stock into the pan and scrape the bottom to retrieve the flavour, and pour it into the stock.

Only add the remaining two cans of sugar beans now, and cook for another half hour. This, as Sonette explained, is because sugar beans remain intact more than other varieties do. She uses only sugar beans in her recipe (so you can do that) but I wanted the extra texture that red kidney, black and broad beans bring.

If the soup becomes too thick, stir in enough milk to bring it to the consistency you want, and cook for five minutes more. DM/TGIFood 

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

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