From meatballs to cheesy potatoes: Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter soups – recipes (2024)

If there’s one thing that’s certain in the recipe-writing calendar, it’s the inclusion of soups in the January roster. The thing that prevents this from feeling same-same, though, is how different one soup will always be from the next. Whether it’s two entirely separate recipes or just the same recipe made from one week to the next, no two soups are ever quite identical, because the recipes tend to be endlessly versatile and happy to accommodate variations in the spices, herbs and other ingredients, depending on what you have to hand. So here’s to same-same but different, to soups for the soul and to all the many other dishes that will bring substance, sustenance and joy this year.

Sopa de tortilla (pictured top)

Other than the use of ancho chilli instead of pasilla, this is a pretty traditional take on a central Mexican classic. There are lots of layers – charred chillies, top-notch stock, corn tortillas both as base and garnish – which are what makes this soup so very comforting. Don’t hold back on the toppings: they add a wonderful, fresh kick.

Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

1 dried ancho chilli (15g), stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced
4½ tbsp sunflower oil
140g corn tortillas
(about 6-8), cut into 1cm-wide strips – I used Cool Chile
2 large vine tomatoes (240g), cut in half widthways
1 jalapeño chilli, stem removed
1 red onion (160g), peeled and cut into quarters, 3 quarters left whole, the other finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
750m good
chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried oregano

To serve
1 lime, halved, 1 half squeezed, to get 1 tbsp juice, the other half cut into 4 wedges
60g soured cream
10g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 avocado
, halved, stoned and peeled, flesh cut into 1cm dice

Put the ancho chilli in a small, heatproof bowl, and put two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, pour it over the chilli, so it sizzles, then set aside to infuse.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and, once hot, add half the tortilla strips and fry, stirring constantly, for a minute and a half to two minutes, until evenly golden brown all over (take care not to overcrowd the pan, and if need be fry them in three batches). Drain on a plate or tray lined with kitchen paper, then repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.

Now ventilate the kitchen. Lay the tomato cut side up in the hot pan, along with the jalapeño and the three whole onion quarters, turn down the heat to medium and sear the vegetables, turning them occasionally, for eight minutes in all, until charred and softening. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook, still turning everything, for another five minutes, until all the vegetables are charred and cooked through.

Put the charred tomato and onion quarters in a blender with the stock, oregano, half the fried tortillas and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, then squeeze in the roast garlic flesh. Cut the jalapeño in half and scrape out and discard the seeds (or keep them in if you want an extra-fiery soup). Add the jalapeño to the blender and blitz everything for 30 seconds, until smooth and pale.

Pour the tomato mixture back into the pan and bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it catch, for five minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the lime juice.

Divide the soup between four bowls, and top each one with a tablespoon of soured cream and a sprinkling of the soaked dried ancho and its oil. Serve with a plate of the chopped onion, remaining fried tortilla strips, lime wedges, coriander and avocado in the middle, so people can garnish as they wish.

Potato, cabbage and gruyere soup

From meatballs to cheesy potatoes: Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter soups – recipes (1)

This is a cheeky take on a French onion soup in that the traditional onions are mostly replaced by shredded cabbage, which both makes it much quicker to cook and gives it a slightly more savoury finish. Most of the prep can be done in a food processor, using the grater, blade and slice attachments as necessary, and the soup can be made up to a day ahead, though don’t grill the cheese until just before serving.

Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 6-8

500g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced (360g)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100ml olive oil
Fine sea salt and black pepper
½ white cabbage
(500g), cut in half
500g potatoes (maris piper or similar), peeled
500ml vegetable or chicken stock
15g dill leaves, finely chopped
200g gruyere, coarsely grated

Put the mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil, two and a half teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper in a large saucepan, turn on the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, until the onions have softened and are starting to brown; if at any point the mix starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of water.

Meanwhile, grate the cabbage on the coarse side of a box grater and put it in a bowl. Do the same with the peeled potatoes and put them in a second bowl. Put the cabbage in the onion pan (add a tablespoon of water, if necessary) and cook, stirring often, for five minutes, until it has softened and wilted down by two-thirds. Add the grated potatoes, stock and a litre of water, bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and the soup has thickened. Take off the heat and stir in the dill.

Heat the grill to its highest setting. Ladle the soup into bowls, scatter the cheese on top and place under the grill for one to three minutes, until the cheese has melted and is nicely golden. Serve piping hot.

Mushroom and sausage meatball soup with za’atar oil

From meatballs to cheesy potatoes: Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter soups – recipes (2)

The cooking of a yoghurt soup requires a bit of focus on temperature, because if the yoghurt is added when the soup is too hot, it will curdle and make for a grainy (though still delicious) end result. Cook it for just the right amount of time, at just the right temperature and according to the instructions, however, and you’ll be rewarded with smooth, tangy velvetiness. Some versions of such soups use overcooked rice to maintain the texture and thickness, but we’ve used cornflour instead. To make this vegetarian, simply swap the meatballs for more mushrooms.

Prep 25 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

30g dried porcini
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
3-4 cumberland sausages
145ml olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms
, cut into half and each half cut into 3 pieces
Fine sea salt and black pepper
130g dried orecchiette
240g Greek yoghurt
4 egg yolks
(save the whites for another use)
1 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 x 400 tin
cannellini or haricot beans, drained (240g net)
1 tbsp za’atar
2 tsp
aleppo chilli
20g chives
, finely chopped

Put the porcini, stock and 500ml water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-high, leave to cook for 15 minutes, then take off the heat. Line a sieve with kitchen paper, pass the mix through that into a second pan, discard the solids and put the stock to one side.

With lightly oiled hands, squeeze the sausagemeat out of its casings, then divide and roll it into 10g balls. Put a tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized frying pan on a medium-high heat and, once it’s hot, add the meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, for five to six minutes, until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a bowl, keeping any fat in the pan.

Return the pan on the heat, add another two tablespoons of oil and, once the oil is good and hot, add the mushrooms and a quarter-teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until golden all over. Transfer to the meatball bowl, again keeping the excess oil in the pan.

Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with well-salted water and bring to a boil. Drop in the orecchiette, turn down the heat to medium-high, cook for 12 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the yoghurt, egg yolks and cornflour. Add the turmeric to the pan of stock and bring the mix back to the boil. Pour a large ladleful of the hot stock into the yoghurt mixture, whisk quickly to combine, then set aside.

Put the meatballs and mushrooms into the pot of hot stock, add the cannellini beans, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and cook for five minutes. Turn down the heat to medium-low, then quickly stir in the yoghurt mixture and leave to cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the orecchiette, take the pan off the heat and leave to sit for five minutes, so the pasta heats through.

Meanwhile, make the za’atar oil. Put the remaining 100ml oil in a small pan on a medium-high heat and, once it’s hot, stir in the za’atar. Take off the heat and stir in the aleppo chilli, chives and a quarter-teaspoon of salt.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve with two tablespoons of the spiced oil spooned on top, with the rest of the oil alongside.

From meatballs to cheesy potatoes: Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter soups – recipes (2024)
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