As it begins to get cold and dark, so we crave healthy comfort food like never before. Check out these nourishing recipes for the winter nights ahead.

The clocks going back signifies, for us, the moment to put away zingy light salads for the rest of the year and replace them instead with piping hot bowls of comfort food to warm ourselves and our loved ones. And since this is also the moment in the year when coughs and colds – not to mention the dread Covid – begin to spread like wildfire, it makes sense that that comfort food should also be nourishing. So, while we will always hold a place in our hearts for oozing cheese toasties and, well, all the pies, these recipes for some of the healthiest comfort foods to eat will take precedence, at least on weeknights. These are the suppers that will not only leave you sated, but also feeling good about yourself, and in a good position to fight the usual brace of seasonal sniffles.

Main image: Feasting At Home; Delicious

Chicken Saag


Olive Magazine


On a chilly night, nothing hits the spot like a good curry. And when it comes to packing in goodness, they can be an excellent vehicle for a fortifying and gut-nourishing variety of veg and spice. This one purportedly comes in at only 350 calories and yet contains red chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cloves and spinach; in short, an army of good things ready to fight infections. It also happens to be completely delicious; as per the recipe, serve it with rotis for the ultimate cold weather comfort. Find the recipe here.


Butternut And Cannelini Gratin


Anna Jones


The best recipes are as much about contrasting textures as they are about flavour. Anna Jones’ deep understanding of that fact makes her the queen of balance, as this warming dish bears testament to. We love its crispy top, courtesy of the torn bits of sourdough, which comes as a perfect contrast to the fleshy delights of the squash underneath, the softness of the cannellini beans and the pure comfort of the Gruye?re cheese. In addition, there’s rosemary, lemon, red onions and hot vegetable stock in there too, which is to say, a feast for the gut and a tonic through winter weather. Find the recipe here.


Healthier Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup


Taste


This fragrant one-pot soup is filling, hearty, delicious – and oh so good for you. Stuffed full of wholesome and beneficial ingredients, such as ginger, chilli and Chinese cabbages, it happens to be low in calories but massive in flavour – all while warding off colds. We could eat bowls and bowls of the stuff. Find the recipe here.


Ribollita (Tuscan White Bean Stew)


Feasting At Home


It is easy, when thinking of Italian holidays past, to remember only the light, summer dishes, thus entering down the rabbit hole of reveries of panzanelle and simple tomato and basil salads eaten on beaches. But Tuscan fare also does winter food exceptionally well, and more heartily than most. As the Feasting At Home blog explains, ‘Throughout Tuscany, White Bean Stew is called Ribollita, which translates to ‘re-boiled.’ This hearty stew originated in hilltop villages throughout Tuscany during the Middle Ages, where hungry, hard-working peasants who served table-side to their wealthy landowners, would pocket the leftover crusts and crumbs and bits of meat after abundant feasts and add these to their soups and stews at home. Nothing was wasted. Traditionally, it’s a big pot of soup made with simple garden vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, kale, tomatoes and cannellini beans (or white beans) in a flavourful broth, thickened with bread, then reheated and eaten several days in row, getting better and better each day.’ Got a carnivore in the house? Just add pancetta for added salty bite. Filling and delicious. Find the recipe here.


Fish Soup


Jamie Oliver


When it comes to simple winter suppers, soup will see us through from now until at least March. We love this Jamie rendition of a fish soup, since it packs in plenty of omega 3 from the seafood, alongside celery, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, fennel, chilli and good olive oil. All the flavour and goodness you need in a bowl. Find the recipe here.


Squash And Chestnut Roast


Anna Jones


And so we return to Anna Jones – after all, she really is the reigning queen of comfort food that just so happens to be extremely good for you, too. This beauty of a recipe underlines that the quality of a dish is all in the ingredients you use. While many of us – vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike – have inwardly, or indeed outwardly, groaned at the words ‘nut’ and ‘roast’ used in conjunction, Anna Jones’ fresh take proves that, with a little imagination, it can be the stuff of entirely delicious comfort. The hearty chestnuts and butternut squash are lent some crunch thanks to the seeds, and sweetness courtesy of the maple syrup. Meanwhile, the ricotta (tofu if you’re a vegan) gives a luxuriant texture, and the cavolo nero, chilli, thyme and shallots all add to this powerhouse of a dish’s healthy credentials. Make this and never roll your eyes at the thought of nut roast again. Find the recipe here.


Pear, Maple Syrup And Brown Butter Pies With Cinnamon Spelt Crust


Delicious


OK, we can’t deny the sugar content of these stunningly good pies. And yet, we argue, it also contains maple syrup, a rich source of riboflavin (vitamin B2); spelt, which is high in fibre, low GI and a good source of proteins; and, of course, pears. It is also, simply, too delicious not to try this winter, while assuring oneself – and everyone else – of its nourishing qualities. Find the recipe here.

By Nancy Alsop
October 2021

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