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10 Scrumptious Comfort Foods That Soothe the Soul [+ Recipes]

by Lystia Putranto

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Having a bad day? Whatever it is that ails you, sometimes, there’s nothing that will soothe your soul quite like comfort foods.

But what exactly are comfort foods?

In a nutshell, they are dishes that have the ‘power’ to make us feel better when we’re less than healthy and calm us down when the toughness of life gets the best of us. Strangely enough, though they are often simple to whip up, they have the ability to fill us up physically and to lift us emotionally.

With that, in this post, I’m sharing my personal list of delightful dishes (along with recommended recipes) that are as mouthwatering as they are comforting:


1. Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese

Photo credit: Michael Rivera

Whether it’s the kind you get from a box at your nearest grocery store or the kind you get at a gourmet restaurant, one can go no wrong when combining pasta and plenty of yummy melted cheese. An American favorite, the simplicity of this dish makes it so easy to whip up even during days where we have minimal energy to cook.  

What’s even better is its vegetarian-friendly and there are plenty of recipes that allow us to create vegan versions of this dish that taste just as decadent. 

And it’s not that hard to make a “cheesy” sauce but you’ll need cashews and nutritional yeast. Here is a great vegan mac & cheese recipe to try.


2. Dumplings


As a self-professed foodie, I love all types of food but Chinese cuisine is hands down one of my favorites. ‘Blame’ it on all those years that I spent living in China, but whenever I’m having a bad day, I instantly crave a hearty portion of dumplings. Whether they’re fried or steamed, I adore them all!

The good news is that they are also quite straightforward to make. So, if you’d like to make a batch for dinner tonight, you ought to try this version of potstickers.


3. Ratatouille


Not to be mistaken with Disney’s & Pixar’s popular animated film of the same name, this French Provençal dish that originated in Nice is also known as Ratatouille Niçoise. Consisting of zucchini, squash, red pepper, and eggplants, this wholesome vegetable stew is like a big warm hug in a pot and sure to lift your spirit whenever you need a boost!

Looking to have a taste of beautiful Southern France without stepping out of the house? Make this simple recipe that features yellow peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, and herbs.

» Discover more French Foods You Must Try During Your Trip

4. Pizza


One of the world’s most popular and beloved foods, it’s hardly a surprise that this Italian cuisine staple made it to this list. No matter what types of toppings or crust you prefer, nothing is as tantalizing as the glorious pizza when you’re in the mood for a hearty and fulfilling meal that will put a big smile on your face.

A New Yorker at heart, I can easily devour the notoriously large New York style pizza pie in one sitting without feeling a twinge of guilt. If you’re in the mood for a piping hot pie, why not give the delivery guy a break and whip yourself a pie right in your own kitchen?

Here is a very simple recipe to make traditional Italian pizza dough. As for the toppings, you can be as adventurous as you like, but nothing beats the simplest of all: tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.

»Find more delicious Italian recipes

5. Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Photo credit: Eliza Adam

Feeling low? This creamy and soothing dish will drive your blues away – guaranteed!

When I’m down with the flu, this is a dish that never fails to miraculously make me feel a whole lot better. That said, it’s just as amazing to be enjoyed when you’re 100% healthy yet hankering for something filling and comforting.

A great meal for adults and kids alike, if you have yet to try it, this recipe is simple and delicious. The combination of the flaky pastry puff and creamy vegetable chicken soup always hits the spot and one serving is simply never enough!


6. Ice Cream

ice cream

Though Hollywood’s romantic comedies equate ice cream as the ultimate ‘heartbreak’ food, it is good to be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Truth be told, I’ve even had days where I ate ice cream for breakfast – fruit flavored ice creams or sorbets are especially refreshing during sweltering hot summer days!

Sorbets are easy to make and don’t contain any dairy. You just need fruits, sugar, and lemon. Or you can make a batch of (vegan) nice-cream by using frozen bananas as a base and your favorite fruits for flavor.

Have you tried making a batch of your own favorite ice cream? It’s actually not as complicated as you may think. My go-to favorite is this fudge brownies ice cream – give it a whirl!


7. Pho


Need a quick pick-me-up? Grab yourself a bowl of pho! This Vietnamese delicacy is infused with flavorful herbs that will treat both your taste buds and soothe your soul. Though it is quite hearty and filling, it is also light, healthy, and invigorating.

As it is a broth-based soup and usually chock full of vegetables, it is especially ideal to be enjoyed when you’re feeling ill. I definitely recommend giving this quick and easy beef noodle pho a try! 

»Read more about the Vietnamese cuisine


8. Fried Chicken

fried chicken

Perhaps it’s just me - but when I’m stressed or feeling overwhelmed, I can’t shake off the need to eat anything fried. Though I love all fried foods, if were to choose just one, fried chicken would have to be it!

The great news is that there are many recipes out there that allow us to make and enjoy plenty of finger-lickin’ good fried chicken that won’t be detrimental to our health. Be sure to check out how you can prepare a crispy and tasty oven-fried Southern-style fried chicken


9. Chocolate cake 

chocolate cake

Looking to instantly turn a frown upside down? For me, anything with chocolate will do the deed. Whether it’s a decadent black forest cake or a lighter than air mousse cake, as long as it contains an immense amount of chocolate, I’m a happy girl. Personally, I don’t really trust people who don’t like chocolate (Afterall, who in their right mind can hate chocolate?) - unless they’re deathly allergic to it that is!

Have some time to bake? This delicious chocolate cake recipe will undoubtedly melt your heart.

10. Chili fries 

Chili fries

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz

If you’re craving a savory treat that both your taste buds and stomach will thank you for, you’re in need of chili fries.

The great thing about this dish is that it’s totally made to be shared, so if you’re facing a predicament, fix yourself a big bowl of these chili cheese fries and enjoy it with your closest friends while you talk it over with them. You’ll find that all your anxieties and worry will disappear in no time! 


Looking to improve your cooking skills so you can whip up these comfort foods right in your own kitchen? Sign up for an online cooking course and be on your way to impress your loved ones!

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