“If you treat a sick child like an adult and a sick adult like a child, everything usually works out pretty well”

Ruth Carlisle

Everyone is sick in my house: Old Spouse, Original Bunn and Our Alice have flu and I am the sole hale and hearty one, which bears testimony to the medicinal merits of daily Merlot.

This is a time when only plain old food will do, and my make-me-better-beans (so named when my child was about three years old) are just the thing.

1 packet dried white ‘haricot’ beans, soaked overnight

1 chicken carcass (leftover roast)

5 litres water

2 bay leaves

2 chicken stock cubes

1 stem celery, chopped including leaves

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large knob butter

200 ml vermouth

6 baby potatoes, skin on, halved

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 packet baby ‘chef’s’ carrots

1 handful chopped parsley

Boil the beans, carcass, stock cubes and bay leaves for three hours. Allow to cool and remove chicken skin and bones. (At this stage your pot looks like the contents of a sewer, don’t fret).

In a small saucepan, sauté the onion in butter until soft (don’t brown) add the vermouth and reduce by half. Allow to cool and liquidize using a stick blender.

Add the onion puree to the bean pot, added celery, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and parsley.

Bring to a slow boil and allow to simmer for an hour. (By this stage the liquid will have reduced to a consistency of gravy, it should not look like a soup).

Season with cayenne pepper before serving.

Feed the sick and go off and have yourself a glass of wine.