photo 1Who has time to be sick these days? Once upon a time, it was a release. A physical reprieve from routine. Poor fortune disguised as an invitation to retreat under the duvet with the television remote, a box set and  a pot of tea.

Sick was never fun, but it could be an excellent excuse to wallow for a while. Until you get a boss who really doesn’t give a damn about the condition you’re in. I thought I’d had some of them in the past, steely sorts who sat in glass corner offices. But now, now I really have one. My current captain is small,  pudgy of fist and determined as heck. And there is no room for sick on his ship.

The past few weeks have been colourful. There have been deadlines. And there has been a lot of concentrated time with just me and  Will -my now 18 mth old sidekick, while The Hungry One was sent to New York for nearly three weeks of work.

There was a bathroom renovation to shepherd through (you may think you’ve accounted for everything; plug wastes, tap mixers, spouts, IXL fans, down lights, power points, tiles, loo paper holders, vanities, but gosh darn it, on the day when it comes to install all of the fixtures, you can be sure you’re going to have to dash out and source a shower shelf from somewhere). There was a car which decided to give up on life in the middle of a major road, in peak hour traffic and be towed. There was a small boy who morphs into a hulk like tiny tyrant whenever molars darken the horizon (we now have three down, just one to go). There was an appointment with an ophthalmologist, which resulted in a surprise (!) excision of two granulomas from my eye. Later that night when I was having a conference with my agent she apologised for not looking skype ready. I may have snorted the red wine I was trying to self medicate with off screen and turned my blackened drooping eye away once again.

There was, quite frankly, no time to be poorly. So I leaned on superfoods with a bit of a frenzied zeal. I tried to start the day with an apple cider vinegar with warm water and a little squirt of honey. You get used to it (and it is very good for a threatening sore throat). There were lots of warm quinoa and kale salads for supper. I shoveled goji berries into anything I could find (mainly bircher muesli, banana oat cookies and emergency brownies).  I made large vats of chicken bone broth in my pressure cooker, enjoying the quiet hiss on the bench top while I bustled around the house  picking up blocks (I cover the bones with water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and cook it for up to five hours, until the bones are giving up hope. A winning tip I’ve discovered is to freeze the broth in silicone muffin tin molds, then pop them out and transfer the pucks to ziplock bags. That way a bowl of simple soup is never far away).

And then there were detox efforts like this. I’m not going to wade into the question of whether actually can actively remove existing toxins from your body based on what you eat. But I do know can prevent more gunk circulating my system by not smashing a double bacon cheeseburger and fries for dinner, but eating earnest soups like this instead.

photo 2This one, takes the cake. It’s so well meaning it should have a lifestyle blog of its own filled with instagrammed photos of watermelon pink skies and yoga poses it excels at. There’s the simple triad of onion, celery and carrot. There’s a bracing chorus of lime, ginger, garlic and chilli. There’s broccoli. There’s watercress (you could use any leafy greens, though watercress has an intriguing peppery flavour and has been shown to be the most nutrient dense vegetable). And there’s turmeric. Fresh turmeric is a wonder. Not just because it can stain everything in your kitchen lurid yellow (watch out- though a paste of baking soda and white vinegar can help nudge any stubborn ones off), but because it gives a husky rasp to everything it touches. It adds complexity, depth and is a marvel ingredient- helping ward off inflammation.

This soup kept me going for three nights. I served it with enoki mushroom ‘noodles’, with bobbing edamame and sipped it straight from a mug. I swirled it with some yoghurt and had it with a garnish of coriander.

And when The Hungry One finally returned to us, bringing a nasty northern lurgy in his wake, you can guess what he got for his supper. I’m happy to report, he’s on the mend and the good ship Haschka continues to sail.

Stay Well Soup

photo 1

Serves 6-8. Can easily be bulked out with a tin of beans, edamame, or some enoki mushroom noodles. If you prefer a sweeter style soup, add some frozen peas into the mix before you blend.

Shopping/foraging


1 thumb of ginger
1 thumb of fresh turmeric (or 1 tbsp powdered turmeric)
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp coconut oil (or neutral flavoured oil)
2 brown onions, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 sticks of celery, diced
1 small head of broccoli, stems diced and florets chopped (or use 2 courgettes)
1 small bunch of watercress (225 g), washed and chopped into ribbons (or use equivalent quantity of leafy greens)
1 chilli
5 cups of water, for a swift vegetarian version, (or chicken bone broth for additional anti inflammatory benefits and flavour)
Coriander to garnish, and potentially a swirl of yoghurt

Method

1) In a food processor or small blender blitz together the ginger, turmeric and garlic.

2) Add the coconut oil to the bottom of a heavy based pan. Add the turmeric/ginger paste and sautee over medium heat for two minutes.

3)  Add the onions, carrots and celery and sautee over medium heat for 5 minutes until they have begun to soften.

4) Add the diced broccoli and sautee for two minutes

6) Add half the lime and the chopped watercress and add five cups of water or chicken broth (or a mix of both).

7) Bring to a boil. Simmer until the broccoli is tender. Squeeze the juice out of the lime into the soup. Discard the husk of the lime.

8) Transfer contents to a food processor to blitz until smooth, or use a stick blender.


9) Taste and season with additional chilli, a little salt and lime juice. Serve with additional chilli, chopped coriander and a wedge of lime.