For those of you who have visited Londolozi, you will know that the soups we serve are some of the best in the Lowveld, South Africa, and as some guests have commented – the world!
There are many chefs on the kitchen staff, each of whom have their own unique talent and personality. When it comes to the Londolozi soups, however, one woman reigns supreme!
Virginia Mthabini, commonly known as VG or Madame, arrived at Londolozi 17 years ago as a scullery lady. VG moved into the kitchen a few months later to become the Salad Chef. When one of the chefs was on leave, VG had to make the soup; it was here she found her passion, and the rest is soup history!
Virginia grew up as one of three sisters, along with three brothers. Completing her schooling in Utah, a small community not far from the Sabi Sands Game Reserve a few hours away from Londolozi. She finished high school with great marks and came straight to Londolozi where a lot of the Mthabini family were already working.
Virginia has a daughter called Pearsley who she has encouraged to do well at school, and I’m sure in time will inherit her mothers passion for cooking and making soups!
Not only does VG make the incredible soups, she is also the Sous Chef of Pioneer Camp. She is an active member of the Londolozi Ladies Choir together with her sister Connie. Her Colgate smile is as bright as Sipho Ngomane’s and she is always wearing it.
Virginia only needs to see a recipe once, and then makes it even better as she goes along. She’s a great teacher to the other chefs, showing them how to put the magic into the soup.
Although there are many signature soups, today we thought we’d share with you one of our most popular:
Londolozi’s Pea & Mint Soup
3 White Onions
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Bag Frozen Peas (or fresh if in season)
1 Litre Vegetable Stock
1 Litre Cream (optional)
1 Large Potato, peeled and chopped
½ Bunch Fresh Mint, chopped
100g Goat’s Cheese
Salt & Pepper
- Fry onion & garlic until soft
- Add the potato and the stock – simmer until the potato is soft
- Add the Frozen Peas – do not add the peas first as the potato will make them go brown!
- Blend until smooth – add cream if you’d like
- Add chopped mint
- Served chilled or hot.
- Garnish with crumbled Goat’s Cheese
Annas and Virginia’s tip – This soup is deliciously served in ice cold glasses with a sprig of mint. This soup also freezes very well.
As a bonus we thought we’d throw in the recipe for our signature soup, which over the years has proved by far our most popular, especially in the winter months; Londolozi’s Roast Tomato and Basil Soup:
3kg Whole Red tomatoes
2 Large Onions, chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, grated
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
150g Tomato Paste
70g Fresh Basil, Chopped
1 Liter Vegetable stock
1 Liter Chicken or Vegetable Stock
500ml Fresh Cream
Salt and Pepper
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place on a roasting tray and roast until soft – about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft
- Add tomato paste stirring continuously, then add the roasted tomatoes.
- Add the Stock and Water and simmer until all the ingredients have combined.
- Blend the soup until smooth.
- Strain through a sieve. Add the cream & basil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot with a dollop of Basil Pesto
Keep an eye on this blog for more signature soup recipes from our Queen of Soups!