Comfort foods are often thought of synonymously with unhealthy foods, and there’s a good reason too. There’s nothing better than chowing down on some ice creams or sweets and deliciously buttery pastries when you’re feeling a bit down. The kick you get from a sugary delight isn’t quite the same as the one you would get from eating a stick of celery (although, if you find celery better, then kudos to you). No, comfort foods often soothe some unmet part of the soul, but not all comfort foods hit the same. As such, here’s my pick.
A Cold Winter’s Day: Chick’n Soup
A recipe of my mother’s and adapted to my (mostly) vegetarian needs, there’s nothing that a one-pot chunky chicken soup filled with Taste & Glory tenderstrips, leeks, carrots, onions, and pasta – yes, it’s a soup with pasta; think Minestrone, but better. It’s a hearty delight that takes 10 minutes of preparation and 20-3o minutes on the stove. It’s healthy, warming, and my go-to on a cold winter’s night. Plus, as I still haven’t managed to ever figure out the correct portion sizes, it always ends up feeding me for days on end.
Showstopping Simplicity: Ramen
Another reliable comfort food of mine is a nice big bowl of ramen. The great thing about ramen is that it may require four different pots, but it’s relatively simple, delicious on the tastebuds, and always looks impressive. A nice miso/five-spice broth topped with sweetcorn, Quorn pieces, an egg, and some spring onions always goes down a treat. Ramen is single-handedly my heavyweight hitter of a comfort food, one that screams “look, I’m sophisticated (I think),” while being one that is relatively stress-free and with little risk.
Bake Your Problems Away: Peppermint Chocolate Shortbread
Not all comfort foods are necessarily easy or timely. Peppermint chocolate shortbread (think caramel shortbread but with a chocolate shortbread, peppermint center, and a dark chocolate top) usually takes me the whole morning/evening – but they’re worth it. Evoking feelings of After Eights, but tasting richer, and just more hearty, these go-to bakes of mine are easily the thing that I love to bake (and eat the most). If I had a constant supply of these, all my problems would melt away with them.
Store-Brought Sugary Sweetness: Rowntree’s Fruit Gums (NOW VEGAN!)
When I first became vegetarian, there were two sweets I knew I would miss: Moam and Fruit Gums. While the latter is still sadly unavailable to me (come on Haribo), Rowntrees changed the recipe of fruit gums to remove the gelatine. Now vegetarian and my go-to sweets, there’s nothing better than getting my mouth in a gelatinous tangle as I chew my jaw away into oblivion. I always eat fruit gums in the same order: orange, strawberry, lemon, blackcurrant, and finally, my absolute favourite, lime. If Rowntree ever made a pack just of lime-flavoured fruit gums, it truly would be a diabetic catastrophe for me.
Childhood Rebellion: Bubblegum (Ice-Cream)
When I was younger, my mum banned the flavour bubblegum. I’m not entirely sure why (probably the E numbers), but now as an adult, I have an unhealthy fixation with bubblegum-flavoured anything (but in particular ice cream). In particular, a suddenly magical place in Southampton, located along Portswood does some of the best bubblegum ice cream I have ever tasted: Scoops. Falling second only to Kelly’s of Cornwall Bubblegum Ice Cream; the dangerous situation of Scoops within a two-minute walk of my house means I’ve spent plenty of nights chowing down six scoops of bubblegum ice cream (yes, you read that correctly) while watching Shrek and crying furiously. The worst part? I have no shame in it.