Most comfort foods are characterized by their high calorie, carbohydrate and sugar/salt content.

Most of the time they are associated with a negative situation like a bad day, too cold outside or emotional stress. We reach for that tub of ice cream for a short lived, feel better, stress reducing bite. Studies have actually shown it is a psychological coping mechanism; your treat will give you temporary soothing security.

Sometimes though, your comfort food can come in the form of a warm and hearty indulgence. Growing up, our snow days were filled with sweet treats but also always a homemade soup, stew or goulash. Casseroles and soup were used to console grieving or ill friends or neighbours. It was a source of comfort, for both of you, you gave and they received, in the hopes that it made the situation feel better.

It’s been a long winter with ups and downs in the weather, with more gloomy days than not, so I have found myself like I always do this time of year, making lots of soups and stews. This is my effort to bask in sentimental nostalgia, which gives me comfort. Dig out your childhood recipes, whether sweet or savoury, and enjoy!

Hearty Beef & Tomato Soup

In a Dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot, sauté in 2 tbps of oil, one pound of small cubed stew meat, about ½-1” pieces. Once browned, add one small cut up onion, one bay leaf, one clove of garlic peeled but not chopped, one tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, and eight cups of water or beef stock or a combination of both. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour-and-a-half until the meat is tenderized. Add one cup each of small cubed carrots, turnip, and celery, and half a cup of frozen peas making sure there is enough liquid to cover them. Cook for about 10 minutes then add 1/3 cup of Israeli couscous or small pasta of your choice. Cook for another 10 minutes then add one large can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil to make sure everything is tender, season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

We enjoyed it with a piece of sourdough bread topped with Genoa salami and mozzarella cheese – so good. Hope you find comfort in making and enjoying this savoury treat.