What is Your Comfort Food?

Added by
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

I posted something on Facebook yesterday that got me thinking as I struggled to find my own answer to the question.

The alarming regularity of unthinkable tragedies as of late have taught me something about myself. When tragedy hits I, like so many others, ache to do something to make things better and to offer comfort. But in this world where we’re all so interconnected and yet so far from arm’s reach, it’s just not possible to hug those who are grieving, or care for them in the coming days. So I tend to just cocoon.

This time–and I hate that there is a this time–I wanted to break that pattern and go outward, finding a way to bring comfort to others as they deal with what’s happened in their own way. Whenever anyone I love is hurting, I get an overwhelming urge to cook for them. It feels to me like I’m handing them a piece of my heart and saying “I hurt for you too, and I hope that makes this a little less lonely and painful to go through.”

So I decided to ask a question: What dish would you bring to a friend who was grieving?

What struck me after asking it was how difficult it was for me to choose. Cakes or cookies felt inappropriately celebratory. Some dishes felt too fussy, others too much like a cocktail party. This one, though, spoke to my heart–it’s full of warmth and good things from the garden, and the dollop of pesto is a reminder of the inevitability that brighter days do lie ahead.

This whole circuitous train of thought brought to life something I’ve said a gazillion times before and I’ll probably say a gazillion times again: food is about so much more than just what we eat.

I’d love to know … what would your answer be?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+

Spring Soupe au Pistou

Pistou is the Provencal cousin of Italian pesto (difference: the French version doesn’t include pine nuts), and it’s used as a condiment as well as in a soup that bears its name. This spring rendition of the typically summery soup adds a touch of fresh mint to the traditional basil in the pistou (just enough basil to “borrow” from your new seedlings), and substitutes leeks for onions and sugar snap peas for haricots verts in the soup itself. As spring turns to summer, adapt the recipe to use whatever produce is available. Add zucchini or other summer squash. Trade the snap peas for green beans, use fresh shell beans instead of canned, and swap canned tomatoes for peeled, seeded summer-fresh tomatoes (you’ll need 1 1/2 cups). Serve with grilled bread.

Spring Soupe au Pistou

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Spring Soupe au Pistou


  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium leek, thinly sliced (white and tender green parts)
  3. Sea salt, to taste
  4. 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  5. 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  6. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1 quart water
  8. 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
  9. 1/2 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  10. 2 thyme sprigs
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  13. 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  14. Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  15. Pistou:
  16. 1 garlic clove
  17. Sea salt, to taste
  18. 1 cup packed fresh basil
  19. 1/2 cup packed fresh mint
  20. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  21. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  22. 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


To prepare soup, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil. Add leek and a pinch of salt; sauté 3 minutes or until very tender. Toss in carrot and celery, and saute another 4 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds, or until just fragrant.

Add water, tomatoes, potatoes, a pinch of salt, thyme sprigs and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add snap peas and cook 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add beans and cook 2 minutes. Season to taste with black pepper.

While soup simmers, prepare pistou. If using a mortar and pestle, place garlic in the bowl with a pinch of salt and pound to a paste. Then add basil and mint a few leaves at a time and continue to pound to a paste until herbs are gone. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and cheese, and season with pepper to taste. If using a blender or mini food processor, add garlic to bowl with a pinch of salt and pulse until minced. Add basil and mint and pulse a few times until herbs are chopped. Drizzle in oil and process until herbs are very finely chopped. Add cheese and pulse just until combined. Serve with soup.