A hearty start to the year: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for brothy winter soups (2024)

There are not many certainties in life, but one thing I do know is that any recipe column published on 1 January is going to be full of ideas for soups and broths. We all want dishes that sustain and nurture on day one of a shiny, new year, to warm our hands as much as our souls. And it’s brothy soups I want right now, where the liquid element feels almost medicinal, and just what we need to power up and prepare for the year ahead.

Black-eyed peas with allspice and grilled onion salsa (pictured top)

Here, the humble black-eyed pea is combined with heat, smoke and warming aromatics, and cooked low and slow, to leave you with a meal that is both nutritious and hearty with a seriously flavourful broth. You’ll need to soak the beans overnight.

Soak Overnight
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 25 min
Serves 4

300g black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in cold water to cover by 3cm and ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
4 fresh bay leaves
scotch bonnet chilli, pierced with 2-3 small slits
10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground allspice
1 litre chicken stock
, or vegetable stock to make the dish vegan
Salt and black pepper
30g crispy fried onions
, shop-bought or homemade, chopped very roughly
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar

For the grilled onion salsa
2 red onions, peeled and cut into 2cm-thick rounds (300g)
60ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
250g datterini (or cherry) tomatoes, ideally a mix of red and yellow
4 tbsp (15g) roughly chopped parsley
2-3 lemons, 1 cut into wedges, to serve, the rest juiced, to get 2 tbsp

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and drain the soaked beans.

Put the oil, cinnamon, bay leaves and chilli in a medium-sized ovenproof cast-iron pan for which you have a lid, and set it over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute, until fragrant and lightly coloured. Stir in the allspice, cook for 20 seconds, then add the beans, stock, 200ml water and a teaspoon and a half of salt, and bring up to a simmer. Cover the pan, then transfer to the oven for 50 minutes, until the beans are soft but still retain their shape. Remove the lid, turn up the heat to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7, then bake uncovered for 20 minutes more, so the liquid reduces slightly – it should still be quite brothy.

Meanwhile, make the salsa. Put a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat. Gently toss the onions in a bowl with a tablespoon and a half of oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper, then grill in the hot pan for four minutes on each side, until softened and nicely charred. Tip into a medium bowl, and roughly separate the rings. Toss the tomatoes with a half-tablespoon of oil, and grill for five minutes, turning regularly, until nicely charred and just starting to burst. Tip the tomatoes into the onion bowl, then add the parsley, lemon juice, the last two tablespoons of oil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and toss gently to combine.

In a small bowl, mix the fried onions and coriander seeds.

When the beans are ready, remove and discard the scotch bonnet, bay leaves and cinnamon; if you like, chop up half or all of the chilli and add it to the salsa, but beware: it is very hot.

Divide the beans between four bowls and top each serving with a large spoonful of salsa, a sprinkle of the fried onion mixture and a lemon wedge.

Lamb noodles with cumin and sesame sprinkle

A hearty start to the year: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for brothy winter soups (1)

This broth is very comforting in its own right, without the noodles, and also works with plain rice instead. Make it up to a day ahead, if you want, not least because it tastes even better the next day. Add a few sliced fresh red chillies at the end, if you’d like some heat.

Prep 20 min
Cook 2 hr 50 min
Serves 4

4 boned lamb necks (600g)
2 shallots
, peeled and cut in half (100g)
7 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
30g coriander leaves

1 cinnamon stick
20g piece fresh ginger
, peeled and roughly chopped
3 star anise
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tsp maple syrup
4 noodle nests
, cooked according to packet instructions
1 lime, cut into quarters

For the cumin and sesame sprinkle
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1½ tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted and slightly crushed
¼ tsp flaked sea salt

Put a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Put the lamb, shallots and garlic on a tray and rub them all over with the oil. Sear the lamb in two batches for three minutes on each side, until nicely coloured, then set aside. Add the shallots and garlic to the hot pan, char for two to three minutes, stirring often, then set aside with the lamb. If there are lots of dark, burnt bits in the pan, wipe it clean.

Turn down the heat to medium and pour a litre and a half of boiling water into the pan. Chop the hard stems off the coriander and put these into the pan; save the leafy tops for later. Return the lamb, shallots and garlic to the pan, add the cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, shaoxing wine and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, then cover and leave to simmer for two and a half hours, until the lamb is falling apart. Skim off and discard any froth that comes to the top while it’s the cooking.

Meanwhile, put the cumin and sesame seeds in a mortar with the flaked sea salt, lightly grind until only partially broken up, then tip into a small bowl.

With a slotted spoon, carefully lift the lamb out of the broth and transfer to a tray. Put a clean tea towel in a large, fine-meshed sieve, set it over a large bowl and strain the broth; discard the solids. Wipe clean the saute pan, pour in the sieved broth and keep warm on a low heat.

Using a fork, break up the lamb into large chunks. Put a large saute pan on a medium-high heat, add the soy sauce and maple syrup, and cook for three to five minutes, until bubbling and thickened. Return the lamb to the pan, toss gently to coat all over, then take off the heat.

Divide the broth and cooked noodles between four bowls, and arrange the lamb on top. Scatter over the coriander leaves, sprinkle a quarter-teaspoon of the cumin mix on top of each portion and serve with the rest in a small bowl on the side along with the lime wedges.

Hot-and-sour soup with savoy cabbage and beansprouts

A hearty start to the year: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for brothy winter soups (2)

Sometimes, a light but nourishing soup is the only thing that will do, and this one ticks all the boxes without using very many ingredients. The cabbage and beansprouts can be swapped for whatever vegetables you have to hand – just keep the net weight about the same.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions
, trimmed, white and green parts cut into thin rounds and kept separate (70g)
1 fresh makrut lime leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste

¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 litre vegetable stock
2½ tbsp tamarind paste
2½ tbsp soy sauce
10g fresh ginger
, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp palm sugar

100g beansprouts
100g savoy cabbage leaves
, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced, pith and seeds discarded if you prefer less heat

Put a medium saute pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, spring onion whites and lime leaf, saute for two to three minutes, until softened, then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for two minutes more, until the oil turns red; make sure the paste doesn’t go dark, or the soup will turn out bitter.

Stir in the chilli flakes, stock, tamarind, soy sauce, ginger, palm sugar and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, cover and bring up to a simmer. Turn down the heat to medium-low and leave to cook for 25 minutes.

Add the beansprouts to the pot, and cook for another five minutes, just until they have softened.

Divide the shredded cabbage between four bowls, ladle the hot soup over it and serve topped with the spring onion greens and the sliced red chilli.

A hearty start to the year: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for brothy winter soups (2024)


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