As rubbish as it undoubtedly is being under the weather, there are some benefits to look forward to when you’re on the mend again – chiefly, that stage when you’re still too fragile to get back to your normal routine, but are well enough to really appreciate a duvet day. When I was little, every time I was off school sick I loved the luxury of being allowed to bring my quilt downstairs to make a bed on the sofa, and to sit watching TV or videos during the day (daytime TV and blankets in the living room generally being forbidden in my house). Another thing I always remember is that when I had an upset stomach and hadn’t eaten for a few hours, the first solid food my mum would try me on was Digestive biscuits. And, seeing as I don’t have an “off” switch when it comes to eating biscuits, I used to scoff my way through them eagerly once I was on the mend.
Even now I still find Digestives oddly comforting – not only do they somewhat settle my stomach, they also make me feel that I’m on the road to recovery, over the worst of whatever ailment has befallen me. Once last year I had a blinding headache and couldn’t get hold of any paracetamol. In my state of despair, I grabbed a packet of Digestives and they had a very positive effect on me. Now, I’m not suggesting that we should replace all medication with the humble biscuit…but what a happy world that would be!
Another food with a similar effect on me is this sweet potato and chickpea soup. One day I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, and my mum offered to make me this soup that she’d been raving about. So I granted her permission (I’m a nice daughter like that), and about half an hour later I had this lovely hot dish before me which raised my spirits incredibly. Now whenever I’m feeling a bit low I make it to boost my spirits. It’s really thick, warm and comforting, and reminds me of my mum taking care of me – it’s just like a hug in a bowl!
Sweet Potato & Chickpea Soup
(Serves 2 – unless, like in my last batch, you use the biggest sweet potato in the world, in which case you can get 3 portions!) From BBC Good Food
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
600ml vegetable stock
220g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp plain soy yoghurt (optional)
50ml non-dairy milk
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic for 3 minutes more, then the spices for another minute.
2. Add the sweet potato, stir well to coat it in the spice and onion mix, and fry for 2 minutes.
3. Pour in the vegetable stock and boil for about 10 minutes, until the potato is tender. (If you’ve cut the potato small enough, it won’t take quite that long.)
4. Add the chickpeas and heat gently before whizzing it with a stick blender (or other blender will do) to form a thick, wintery soup. You have to be quite thorough to catch all the sneaky little chickpeas and potato cubes, but I don’t mind the odd chunk anyway. Stir in the yoghurt and milk, warm it through, then season and serve.