Lentil and Chard Soup is one of those traditional soups which each family makes its own. I looked at several recipes for this delicious and nutritious vegan soup before making it. As always, I took what I liked from each to make it my own. Initially I read that it was a Syrian soup, but most of the recipes that I found online said that it was Lebanese. Whatever its origins, Lentil and Chard Soup is tangy from the lemons and chard with enough heft from the lentils and potatoes to make this a meal with some good bread and perhaps a salad or some hummus on the side.
If you are unfamiliar with chard (Swiss chard, Rainbow chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach) you should make friends quickly. This green, leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamins and as part of a healthy diet, it can help lower blood pressure and combat certain cancers. While in the beet family, chard can substitute in most recipes calling for spinach or kale. You should note that chard takes longer to cook than spinach – around the same time it takes to cook kale.
Winter has finally well and truly arrived in Chicago and we have been having frigid temperatures and snow. My husband and I still take our long, almost daily walks and are undeterred.
However, I do love to return home to a pot of soup to warm my insides. It’s like getting a big hug – nothing cozier. Lentil and Chard Soup comes together quickly and easily can be doubled to feed a crowd.
For another delicious way to prepare chard, try:
Yield: About 8 servings
1.5 cups of brown or green lentils, rinsed well and drained (I like Pardina lentils because they hold their shape when cooked.)
4 cups vegetable stock
4 to 6 cups water (or more stock)
2 bunches of chard (any variety), cleaned and coarsely chopped
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I like Golden potatoes)
7 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 – 3 Tablespoons EVOO
Up to 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (Start adding slowly and taste before adding more. The soup should be tangy from the lemon.)
Heaping 1/2 Tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) dried mint
3 teaspoons ground cumin
A good dash of ground cinnamon
A handful of fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped
kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to be golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3 more minutes – just to mellow out the garlic.
In a large pot, add the lentils, potatoes, stock and water if used. At this point, just add about 8 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir through. Add the chard, onions, garlic and cumin. Give a good stir. There should be enough liquid to cover the potatoes and lentils by 2 inches. Add more water as needed. Partially cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and lentils are tender. This will take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and mint and taste to see if you require more salt. I didn’t. Add the cilantro just before serving.