Feel good food

If you’re feeling under the weather, here’s a medicinal flu soup and a nutritious stir fry

Lamb stir-fry made with canon of lamb. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Lamb stir-fry made with canon of lamb. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


I have to be truthful (it’s a spanking new year, after all; I have to at least make a good start) and admit that there are some dishes that, well, let’s just say they’re never going to win any prizes for good looks. And for the record, most of them are brown.

Yet it’s rather ironic that for at least some of these culinary wallflowers, looks really are deceiving, because their less-than-pretty appearance can hide a huge slice of flavour; think lentil stew, many curries, a good consommé and even classic Irish stew.

But the most extreme example has to be meat-loaf. It’s almost impossible to make meatloaf look anything other than what it is: minced meat mixed with “stuff” and wrapped in, yes, more meat, usually streaky bacon. And yet, good meatloaf is almost bursting at the seams with flavour.

One of the recipes this week is for just such a dish. My so-called flu soup is as far from a visual showstopper as you can get. But my, my, for those seeking something to soothe and cleanse – and around about now I imagine that’s quite a few of you – it would be hard to find better.

Garlic and ginger are the foundation of many wonderful dishes, but I think it’s the aromatic herbs that do the real work here. Sweet, savoury sage has long been famous for its medicinal properties – in fact, its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derives from the Latin word salvere, which means “to be saved”. And thyme has a history as a remedy for coughs and colds.

So, if you’re feeling a little under the weather, or just want a post-Christmas cleanse, give this soup a try. To make it that bit more substantial, add some cooked chicken (or turkey), tofu, spring onions, seaweed and/or a poached egg.

The lamb stir-fry, made with canon of lamb, is another nourishing helping of goodness. Lamb is gentle on the digestion yet full of flavour, and the cumin, chilli, ginger and garlic make it warming, but not too overwhelming, as they are tempered by the chickpeas, coriander and spring onion.

A lovely dish to warm you up on a cool winter’s night.

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