Isophu Yombona

It’s a  bit chilly in Jozi and since today is International Soup Day I thought I would share my favourite soup with you.

Isophu yombona is a traditional soup for the Xhosa culture in the Eastern Cape.  It is made from dried mealie kernels and sugar beans  by just simmering these ingredients until soft then add seasoning such as salt.

This soup takes me back to the good old days when it was cooked in cast iron pots on a fire situated in the centre of a thatched roof rondavel with windows the size of a fist hehe!  Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit here….windows were the size of a rugby ball….This way of cooking way warmed up the room during the cold winter days and everyone would gather around the fire while the soup was cooking.

The soup takes a long time to cook and is slow cooked.  This long cooking procedure usually presented an opportunity for story telling.  The grandmother would narrate the stories.  In those days most households did not have television sets, this encouraged the children to use their imagination.  Most often the stories would have a wolf and a jackal.   In all these stories the jackal was portrayed as wise and the wolf as stupid.  Those were good days as we never knew how a wolf looked like,  however you imagined a fool.  Hehehe!  Good days indeed!

Fast tracking to the future and recreating the same kind of scenario the soup would be simmering in the kitchen with the aroma inviting an imagination of a tasty and steaming bowl of soup….ready to be savoured…….Mmmmmmm!

What is your favourite soup and what does it remind you of?

Isophu Yombona

Serves: 4

 250ml dry meal kernels

250ml sugar beans

3litres boiling water

3 spring onions, chopped

200ml -250ml bacon, diced

2.5ml salt

1 stock cube

2ml black pepper

5ml olive oil

1-2 garlic, chopped


  1. Soak the beans in just enough water to cover them.  Throw away the soaking water.
  2. Add 2L of the water and simmer at low heat until the beans and the kernels are soft.
  3. Add the rest of the water and continue simmering then add seasoning, bacon and chopped spring onions.
  4. Serve.

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