Looking for comforting recipes that are nutritious to boot? We've asked the Good Food team to share their go-to recipes for when they're craving something hearty and restorative in equal measure. We've teamed up with registered nutritionist Kerry Torrens, who explains how each of these snacks good for you, too.


Here are our pick of the best feel-good recipes, featuring nutrient-dense veggie dishes for meat-free Mondays, steaming hot chicken soups for rainy days, and warming one-pots for all the family.

Try one of our ideas below for a healthy alternative to a carb-heavy meal, then check out more ideas with our healthy comfort food recipes and vegetarian comfort food recipes.

1. Spiced black bean & chicken soup with kale

Cassie Best - Food director

Spiced black bean & chicken soup with kale in a white bowl against a dark backdrop

“When I need a boost, my go-to recipe is a big bowl of steaming hot chicken soup, but for the days when I don’t have the time (or energy) to slowly poach a chicken to make my own stock, I revert to this quick and easy recipe. It can be on the table in under 30 minutes, and it's packed with spice, texture and flavour.”

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Why it’s good for you: Chicken soup is a source of anserine and carnosine – these building blocks of protein may help us feel less anxious, depressed and mentally tired. Kerry Torrens

2. Kale with chana & coconut

Natalie Hardwick - Editor, bbcgoodfood.com

A large black pot of kale with chana & coconut

“I often have this meal as a meat-free Monday option. The coconut makes it really rich and indulgent-feeling, but the pulses and veg make me feel like I’m doing my body some good. The flavour profile is a great example of how a simple combination of spices can elevate cheap and easily available ingredients. It’s great on its own, but to ramp up the comfort factor, I like to serve this with buttery parathas.”

Why it’s good for you: This comforting curry contains turmeric: studies suggest regularly consuming this warming spice may help to keep our brains in better shape. What’s more, combining turmeric with a naturally fatty food like coconut helps us to get more from this beneficial spice. Kerry Torrens

3. Smoky hake, beans & greens

Ailsa Burt - Recipe developer

Smoky hake, beans & greens on a white dinner plate with knife and fork

“It’s no secret among friends and family that I love beans. They’re cheap and nutritious to boot, as they’re full of fibre, protein and iron. I prefer to use kale in this dish or any leafy veg that I have lurking in my fridge. I do without the mayo if I don’t have any in the house, too. I like to serve this with a good grating of parmesan and some toasted, buttered sourdough.”

Why it’s good for you: The beans and green leafy vegetables in this brain-friendly fish dish contribute fibre, folate and the B group of vitamins. Low levels of these vitamins are associated with poor mood and depression. Kerry Torrens

4. Burnt aubergine veggie chilli

Emma Hartfield - Digital health editor

Pot of aubergine chilli next to a bowl of rice and with a hand dipping in a tortilla chip

“I’ve been making this recipe for a few years – my whole family love it. There’s nothing better than a warming, nutritious one-pot for the comfort factor in my view, and the fact that this one is made from inexpensive ingredients and contains four of your five-a-day makes it even better! I make double quantities as it freezes well – that's a ready-made meal for those tough days midweek.”

Why it’s good for you: This clever recipe combines several natural mood-boosters, including dark chocolate, cinnamon and chilli. Kerry Torrens

5. Red lentil & coconut soup

Lydia Anderson - Senior reviews writer

Red lentil & coconut soup in a black saucepan

“Begin a dish with a base of garlic, ginger and turmeric and you’re already onto a winner (I use fresh turmeric when I have it to hand). This red lentil and coconut soup is comforting and restorative in equal measure, and a generous squeeze of lime lifts the whole dish. It comes together quickly and uses simple storecupboard essentials. Plus, it freezes well too.”

Why it’s good for you: Rich in non-digestible carbs and good-for-you compounds called polyphenols, lentils not only keep our digestive system healthy, they also promote a diverse community of beneficial bugs that live in our gut. Increasing evidence suggests that these bugs play a key role in brightening our mood and maintaining mental well-being. Kerry Torrens

6. Lemon greens pesto pasta

Isabella Keeling - Health writer

Lemon & greens pesto pasta served in 3 bowls

“If I’m feeling a bit worse for wear, I always crave pesto pasta with added greens like broccoli, peas, greens beans and kale. It’s green so it’s good for my body, but it’s also pasta which is good for my soul. I add plenty of zingy lemon and undercook the veg slightly so it retains a good crunch, which contrasts nicely against the pasta. And obviously, I cover the whole thing in a thick blanket of grated parmesan.”

Why it’s good for you: With just over one serving of leafy greens per day helping to slow cognitive decline and keep our brains sharp and alert, this is one recipe to add to your weekly repertoire. Kerry Torrens

7. Udon noodle soup

Helen Salter – Digital writer

Udon noodle soup in a pan next to a small bowl

“I always crave a steaming hot noodle soup to slurp down after a long day. Udon noodles provide a soft, chewy and silky texture, and the beauty of this recipe is that it can be easily customised – I tend to add fried tofu and edamame beans for extra protein, as well as any veg I find lurking in the reduced section of shops.”

Why it’s good for you: Spinach is one of the most popular leafy greens, and with good reason. Studies suggest it has both anti-stress and anti-depressant properties. Kerry Torrens

8. Easy butter chicken

Alice Johnston - Audience development manager

Two bowls of butter chicken served with rice, naan bread, chutney, coriander and lime wedges

“My go-to bowl of comfort is this butter chicken. It’s absolutely bursting with flavour from spices like garam masala, cumin and paprika, and marinating the chicken overnight will really accentuate these. The sauce has a luxuriously creamy texture, but it's lower in fat than the classic dish thanks to the natural yogurt. I love it served with rice, wilted spinach and naan, plus a squeeze of lime.”

Why it’s good for you: Thanks to the mix of spices, almonds and lemon juice, a plateful of this butter chicken is packed with protective plant chemicals that help support a healthy brain and nervous system. Kerry Torrens

9. Green goddess salad

Katie Meston - Premium digital content manager

A green goddess salad served on a large oval plate

“Nothing makes me feel better than consuming a load of green veg when you’re feeling a little ‘blue’ and this bright green goddess salad certainly hits the mark. It’s all about the addictive dressing; it’s punchy, herby and is made creamy from the addition of cashews and savoury nutritional yeast. If you don’t have a food processor, don’t worry – it’s actually quite satisfying to take the time to chop all vegetables into even chunks. It provides two of your five-a-day and it’s plant-based, too.”

Why it’s good for you: The B group of vitamins that are found in leafy greens all have different roles – from helping the body use carbs for energy to supporting our stress response, maintaining concentration levels and keeping our memory and focus sharp. Kerry Torrens

10. Chorizo & chickpea soup

Amanda Nicolas - Associate editor

Chorizo & chickpea soup in a white bowl next to slices of garlic bread on a separate plate

“This is my go-to speedy dinner when life is hectic and my fridge is as good as empty, as I almost always have all the ingredients. The cabbage is a comforting taste of my childhood, spent in southern Germany, surrounded by cabbage fields. The chilli flakes and spicy, garlic chorizo wake up sleepy senses, while the warm broth soothes and chickpeas fill a hungry tummy.”

Why it’s good for you: Nutritional surveys suggest that those of us who regularly eat chickpeas have higher intakes of fibre, healthy poly-unsaturated fats, protective vitamins A, C and E as well as energising minerals, like iron. Kerry Torrens

11. Japanese ramen noodle soup

Lara-Jane Johnston - Digital marketing executive

Japanese ramen noodle soup in a duck egg coloured bowl with wooden chopsticks

“When I'm experiencing an endometriosis flare-up, this is my go-to feel-good comfort food recipe. Using bone broth as chicken stock and being high in nutrient-dense veg (but low in calories) is perfect for me. It’s always tempting to go for carb-heavy options when I'm feeling down, but this is warming, comforting and delicious, and ideal for balancing my hormones.”

Why it’s good for you: Don’t skip the finishing touches of this delicious ramen – they’re as nourishing and good for you as the main dish. Eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient essential for memory and brain function, while edible seaweed provides neuroprotective compounds that are able to exert their benefits on the brain. Kerry Torrens

12. Black bean burritos

Barney Desmazery – Skills and shows editor


“There’s something inherently comforting about burritos. You’re in charge of what you stuff into them and just how healthy you make them too. This meat-free version is packed with good things like black beans and avocado. I always make enough black beans and rice to mix together the next day for lunchbox burritos.”


Why it’s good for you: Studies suggest regularly including avocado in your diet may lengthen your attention span and significantly improve how your brain works. Kerry Torrens

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