Conjure up comfort food for challenging times

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comfort food

Found myself recalling that famous speech from Blade Runner: ‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain’.

WORDS: Jean Hill

Cannot quite compete with that eloquence. I have seen the sun rise in New Brighton after an  early walk along the Promenade, and diamonds do glitter across the Mersey, but you need to be out ‘sharpish’ to see them, which reminded me of Dylan’s ‘highway of diamonds with nobody on it’. It is awesome, and though I hate the reasons why this is my exercise for the day, it is therapeutic. And it all helps work up an appetite.

Now more than ever, the family gather around the kitchen. Or as a grand total of one, I can flap my arms around and make like a gathering. Children are learning to bake bread, as I did once upon a time, and there is a maths lesson in there somewhere. You can be confident that a glorious mess in the making, is but the starter to a creative triumph of a meal.

Niki Webster has written a delightful vegan cook book: ‘Rebel Recipes’. Turned out I had almost all the ingredients for at least one recipe, so I have prepped, cooked and devised a different kind of ‘restaurant’ review.

Rebel Recipe for Spiced Broccoli, Courgette & Coconut Soup


5 large shallots

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

4 cloves of garlic

Grated ginger

1 large courgette

75g sugar snaps (peas) roughly chopped (retain a small number for decoration)

2 heads of broccoli

1 red chilli

1 can of coconut milk

1 can of water

3 handful of kale

Sea salt and black pepper

Squeeze of lime juice

  1. You will need one large saucepan. Fry the shallots over a medium heat with coconut oil for 10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and fry.
  2. Add courgette, broccoli and sugar snaps and stir, then add coconut milk, water and chilli.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Add kale and cook for a further minute.
  4. Blitz with hand blender or food processor until smooth.
  5. Season well and squeeze in lime.


  • Top with remaining 75g sugar snap peas, 3 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds, coriander and a dollop of coconut yoghurt.

I love making soups, and up until now: pea and mint soup was my favourite. I have never combined (almost all) these ingredients in a soup. I didn’t have any coconut yoghurt, which I am sure would have added a certain creaminess. I didn’t have kale either!

So I loved it. I substituted olive oil for coconut oil (which hopefully did not impair the flavour). The ginger and chilli provide the heat and sharp rich inner glow. Coconut milk is something I always have in the store cupboard, though I use it more in curries than in soups. That could change.

Overall, this could be right up there as one of my favourite soups. The courgettes, broccoli and sugar snaps are its heart. A little sweetness, a little tartness, a match made in heaven. These vegetables work so well together. This is an inspired vibrant brew. The consistency is perfect, and there is a balance and depth to the flavour, that must have taken much thought and planning.

So well done Nicki Webster and good luck with the cook book. You had me at the mention of ginger and coconut milk.

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