’Tis the season for sipping delicious, warming and comforting soups in front of cosy log fires and there’s no-one better to talk soup with than Sóller-based chef Grace Berrow.
Grace, who spent the first year of her life in Deià and lived with her family on a boat in Sóller, is the former owner of Patiki Beach in Port de Sóller. This year she became chef at the funky Hotel Corazon between Deià and Sóller. Her creations – always a mix of the healthy and intriguing – are one of the reasons the Corazon was an instant hit for those of us searching for something different on the West Coast.
‘For me, the winter months are the best time to be in Sóller,’ Grace says. ‘Making and eating soup is a big part of why I enjoy them.’
‘Soup is the ultimate comfort food. It just sits in your tummy and makes you feel loved. But it’s comfort food that also serves your body. You feel great after you’ve eaten it. Lots of comforting foods are really flavoursome but not especially good for you. Soup is also so versatile. You can make it chunky or smooth, or more like a stew.’
Grace’s bedrock ingredient for her favourite soups is white beans, easy to find in any island supermarket.
‘They give a soup like leek and potato an extra heartiness,’ she explains. ‘Make a batch with them and you can eat the same soup for the next four days. It gets better and better. Put things like runny cheese on top one day, meat the next, and it’s a different meal every day.’
‘I’m a big fan of ever-evolving soups,’ Grace continues. ‘In Italy, they make something called ribolita, a soup of vegetables and bread re-boiled every day. That’s probably the ultimate soup for me.’
What Grace calls ‘lazy soup’ is another favourite. ‘You cut up pieces of vegetables like carrots, butternut, onions and sweet potato, roast them in the oven and add vegetable stock once they’re cooked. It feels like a very natural soup.’
Grace usually makes her soups with a meat stock. ‘I have a hob outside my house in Sóller and I’ve always got some chicken or pork bones boiling. I don’t use fish stock so much, but I do love making bouillabaisse with a sweet prawn stock. But all soups can be made with a vegetable stock.’
The secret ingredient in Grace’s vegetable stock is sweet white miso paste. ‘You don’t need meat stock when you’re using that,’ she says. ‘And you can put in as much or as little as you want. It really thickens any broth.’
She adds, ‘When you buy cooked white beans in the jar, they come in a slightly gloopy stock. Warm this up and it turns to a liquid that really lends a lovely kind of richness to your soup,’
Warming to the subject of stock, Grace says ‘Another great thing for soups is old parmesan rinds. They make it taste like you’ve cooked the stock for hours when you haven’t.’
Should the stock prove so irresistible only the veggies are left, Grace’s tip is to put a burrata on top and have the leftovers as a solid dish the next day. ‘I love how food evolves like that,’ she says.
As anyone who’s visited Mallorca at this time of year knows, hearty soups are a staple of the traditional island menu. One of Grace’s favourites is sopas Mallorquinas, a surprisingly piquant soup made with cabbage, cauliflower, and thinly sliced pan moreno – brown bread.
If you’d like to make your own, it takes around 30 minutes and is very simple. Here’s a recipe.
To make one of Grace’s delicious soups, head for her website where you’ll find a recipe for what she calls ‘Autumn Salvation Soup’.
Hotel Corazon opens again in March 2024. As you might expect, soup will be on Grace’s menu. At least until spring.