Meet John Lawson + his Gooseberry Gazpacho
Scroll down for the Summer Gooseberry Gazpacho Recipe
I first discovered John Lawson whilst housebound after my cancer treatment, scouring the internet for delicious food ideas that would lighten the daily burden of living with my condition.
I quickly learnt we shared a lot in common – not only had he endured life changing Brain Cancer (or Oligodendroglioma to be more specific) but absurdly, I had stumbled across an inspirational professional chef with the same addiction for exploration as me and, somebody of a similar age who could relate to the scary new headspace we had been thrust in to.
It was hugely comforting to share the journeys we had been through and make the realisation that we were both trying to learn to be as positive and healthy as possible in our future lives.
The first thing we talked about was what we could eat and also what we wanted to eat. It was like we had been living in parallel universes – crazy quick energy loss, missing out on social events and not being able to even enjoy life’s normal vices such as coffee and alcohol – two things that could at least give us a temporary fix from the restrictions of our isolated selves.
Loss of concentration, sapping energy levels, sleep deprivation, inability to focus and loss of appetite – we had it all – but we were compelled to try to enhance and satiate our bodies’ health from this point on.
What could life be about? For us, the most accessible avenue was nutrition – eating more healthily and consuming the right energy efficiently, whilst making yourself (and others) satisfied through delicious dishes. At the same time, we would strongly research and affirm that our diets could give us full life benefits for general health, but crucially confront our cancer hit.
“My recovery comes down to the food I eat. Food that helps your gut talk to your brain. Brain food that helps your body repair tissues.” John Lawson
John describes the scary moment he realised something was wrong back whilst working in Melbourne – his partner was awoken by a sudden seizure in bed and then rushed him to hospital.
He was given an immediate scan after his wipe out and an abnormal growth was visible. To understand things further, they performed a cranial surgical biopsy to his temporal lobe (a sample removal which is dangerous at the best of times). Sadly, the surgeon hit a venous lake vein which led to mass bleeding, alongside heavy memory and speech loss. John spent a month in hospital before his full tumour removal operation in 2016.
Recovery from the surgery was both physically and mentally hard. As to whether he could ever re-instate his normal life, and even enjoy the simplest things like interacting with friends and family.
Realising how to cling onto hope was the first and hardest bit of rehabilitation. Every day there was a little bit more hope to live a full meaningful life, but this was tempered by how slow the road ahead would be, and how far he could get.
John adopted a simple mantra. Live well. Feel good. And be yourself.
Fast forward to 2020, and following a strongly fought a battle to recovery, John has returned to England and opened an amazingly unique and intimate restaurant in Leigh-on-Sea, which true to form, serves delicious and beautiful, anti-cancer dishes – I thoroughly recommend it for a visit!
‘Food’ comes as a result of John’s previous roles as a private chef in London and Executive Head Chef at the most prestigious hotel in Australia after his treatment and his firmly held belief that everyone should benefit from eating wholesome, tasty food. ‘Food’ is John’s door to sharing the knowledge and research he has accumulated in the benefits of eating well or as he puts it; “We are what we eat, we have to look after our bodies and nourish them.“.
Refreshingly, John still realises the importance of being flexible with your diet and able to indulge yourself from time to time. Sundays are about family, enjoying a classic roast dinner or even his favourite dish from childhood, an old school pie and mash even using jellied eels!
Wholesome World is a home aspect of John’s push to share his delicious Food by John Lawson dishes and he has amazingly given us recipes for a delicious, light seasonal soup. Summer is perfect for an English treat of gooseberries, and he has enhanced it with strong health and anti cancer ingredients.
Soup is the easiest nutrition type for those undergoing cancer treatment.
Summer Gooseberry Gazpacho
Time to create: 20 mins (+8-24 hrs)
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian, Simply Smooth
This is the ultimate in healthy soups, made even healthier if you can take the time to soak the almonds in salted water for 12 – 24 hours.
This breaks down the indigestible phytates which can block minerals being absorbed and generally increases the nutrient value of the nuts.
Gooseberries are certainly the nutritional players in this dish.
They are packed with some of the best researched anticancer phytonutrients including quercetin, anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
Make a good size batch of this soup and freeze some ready for a wonderful light, cooling lunch on a hot summers day. If you freeze it immediately once made you will lose very little in the way of vitamins and minerals.
Summer Gooseberry Gazpacho
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 220g Almonds
- 250g Gooseberries
- 250g Cucumber
- 1/2 Red pepper
- 250g Crème fraîche
- 1 dsp White wine vinegar
- Pinch of Himalayan salt
- < 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil (Topping)
- < 1 tbsp Runny honey (Topping)
- Heat the oven to 180C. Lightly oil, de-skin and loosely wrap the garlic cloves in foil. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until soft.
- Scatter 200g of the almonds on a tray and for the last 8 minutes of the garlic cooking place them in the oven to toast until golden brown, check them after 5 minutes and move around to get an even colour. Place both to one side to cool.
- Place the Crème fraîche and 250ml of water in a large bowl and mix together.
- Remove the top and tail of the gooseberries, cut in half, then wash. Dice the cucumber (leave the skin on), deseed and dice the red pepper. Place all in the bowl with the liquids. Simply stir in.
- Squeeze two cloves of the soft roasted garlic into the bowl and also add the toasted almonds, mix well, cover and leave in the fridge to work its magic for 8 to 24 hours.
- Add the remaining 20g, of almonds to a separate bowl and add warm water to cover them, and finish by adding a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl and leave on the side while the gazpacho chills.
- Once chilled, to finish add the vinegar and salt to the gazpacho and place all ingredients in a blender and blitz quickly on a high power until smooth and creamy. Pass the liquid through a fine sieve to finish.
- Serve topped with a drizzle of rapeseed oil, and honey. If feeling really fancy you can also add a dollop of Crème fraîche, some extra cucumber and the soaked almonds.
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat||50 g ( 77 % )|
|– Saturated Fat||15 g ( 76 % )|
|– Monounsaturated Fat||19 g|
|– Polyunsaturated Fat||7 g|
|– Trans Fat||0 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg ( 0 % )|
|Sodium||10 mg ( 0 % )|
|Potassium||698 mg ( 20 % )|
|Total Carbohydrate||29 g ( 10 % )|
|– Dietary Fiber||10 g ( 42 % )|
|– Sugars||10 g|
|Protein||15 g ( 29 % )|
|Vitamin A||( 16 % )|
|Vitamin C||( 63 % )|
|Calcium||( 165 % )|
|Iron||( 4 % )|