If your food consciousness has Gwyneth Paltrow-level ambitions but you’ve failed to make it to Goopville, you’ll appreciate vegetarian chef Ipeleng Motuba’s more reasonable approach to healthy, mindful eating. Her Joburg-based culinary organisation, Keep Eating, was born out of a brainstorming session with her best friend and a desire to diversify the city’s food industry. She’s introduced interesting vegetarian options to likeminded folk – as well as many meat-loving South Africans who’ve long been reluctant to give up a bone.
Keep Eating also runs a food programme to help those in need, and, bimonthly, Ipeleng holds food exhibitions, her intimate networking events where 50 guests are invited to feast on a homemade five-course meal while enjoying live jazz. Until you’ve cracked the nod to be included on her guest list, have a go at making her homey butternut soup.
What comfort meal have you prepared for us?
A roasted butternut soup.
What are the fondest memories you have of it?
Discovering how much better it tastes when you roast the butternut as opposed to boiling it in the soup pot!
Any cheat tips for lazy cooks?
Spend a weekend afternoon chopping and prepping all the vegetables for the soup. Pre-sliced vegetables will save you a lot of cooking time during the week. Store them in a bag in the freezer and use them as needed. Try to repeat the process every week and you will always have ready-to-use vegetables handy.
How did you learn to make your dish and how long did it take you to master?
I learnt by watching my best friend’s sister prepare it for us on days when we were hungry and she wanted to make something quick for us to all enjoy. It took me one try to master its execution – based on the first time I made it for the woman I learnt to make it from.
I discovered my talent when I did my traineeship at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. I worked as an intern at its restaurant Myoga and the strength that I exuded there surprised me, to say the least! I worked with 20 men in the kitchen and was on a mission to prove that I am not weak. It was once my turn to prepare the staff meal for the front and back of house staff and I felt that it was my time to shine. From then on, my colleagues referred to me as a chef.
What’s behind the name Keep Eating?
The name represents a state of conscious consumption that allows for one to remain constantly aware of one’s nutritional intake. The extended term is ‘keep eating well’. To do this, one needs to keep loving, keep in touch and genuinely think about consumption. It is the wholesome vision of perpetuating a well-balanced lifestyle as a whole.
roasted butternut soup
1 whole butternut, peeled and diced
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 spring onion, halved
1 small celery stick, halved
1T Madagascan cinnamon
1/2 clove of nutmeg shavings
Salt and pepper to taste
1 litre of water (or enough to completely cover your vegetables)
Heat the oven to 180°C. Drizzle butternut cubes with some olive oil and roast until golden brown.
Put the rest of the ingredients in a large soup or stewing pot and bring to the boil. Once roasted butternut is ready, add to the pot.
Let the water reduce for five minutes further or until the water slightly covers the ingredients.
Put your cooked ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. For a completely smooth soup, pass your blended mixture through a sieve.