Achingly hip interiors, insouciant fashion and deliciously dark Nordic noir. Is there anything those Scandi cool kids don’t do with aplomb? Apparently not. Now, thanks to hygge, they can add the art of wellbeing to their expanding list of accolades. Hygge is hot here right now (there are no less than nine books coming out on the subject in the next couple of months) but has been a Danish staple for over a hundred years. Loosely pronounced /hue-gah/ it translates as the pleasure you get from being cosy, comfortable and nurtured. It’s a state of mind rather than a physical thing; that warm feeling you get when you’re totally in the moment, taking time out from life to be good to yourself. Think long baths, merino throws, good lighting and hearty food.
The premise of hygge sits well for me because it’s the antithesis of FOMO. No need to fret about what other people are doing, you’ve got everything you need under your very own roof. You can hygge on your own but it works equally well with a group of your besties, it can’t be bought, it doesn’t require any effort and it’s not about deprivation – it’s all predicated on life’s simple pleasures. It also gives you carte blanche to curl up somewhere comfy, wearing your softest knit and do nothing more challenging than read a book. So crank up the heating, light some candles, pull on some loungewear and arm yourself with a nice Malbec. Let’s get hygge with it.
Good food and hygge go hand in hand; nothing overly complicated mind you. It needs to be easy to prepare and quick to cook yet lingering on the tastebuds. Fuss-free but luxuriously tasty and satisfying, this broccoli and cheese soup is a proper meal in a bowl, especially if you serve with plenty of buttered sourdough toast. I tend to go heavy on the onions and garlic when I make soup as they give it depth and have wonderful antimicrobial properties – essential for fighting off winter bugs.
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic
200ml (approx) vegetable stock (I like Bouillon)
About 100g of crumbly blue cheese (I used roquefort)
Chopped chives and pumpkin seeds to garnish
Put the onions, leeks and garlic into a deep pan on a low heat with about a tablespoon of melted butter and a sprinkling of salt. Sweat them down until they’re soft – about 8 minutes – stirring enough to ensure they don’t catch or go brown. Then add in the broccoli and enough vegetable stock to cover most of the pan’s contents. Remember you can always add in more stock at the end, better to err on the side of caution at this stage to ensure you get a nice thick soup consistency later. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until broccoli is soft. Take off the heat and blitz the contents with a hand held blender. Now you can adjust with more stock if the consistency is too thick. Add in most of the blue cheese (keeping some back for serving) and stir until it has disappeared. Spoon into bowls and garnish with the rest of the cheese, some pumpkin seeds and chopped chives.