Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

Garlic, onions, carrots
Similar to my Lentil Soup of January first, this soup is hearty and delicious. It even looks the same during preparation, for the most part. The flavor and texture, however, is vastly different. When I made this soup for myself last week, I was just coming out of a bout of stomach flu, still shaky but very hungry. I had gotten past the toast and applesauce stage and wanted real food, and by "real food" I mean healthy, well cooked whole foods. I opted out of meat for a few days, and stuck to getting my protein from legumes and TVP.

Sautéing the vegetables
This soup has a surprise ingredient at the end, one which I thought was rather odd. I tasted the soup both before and after adding it, and was pleasantly surprised. You may be tempted to leave it out, but don't. It adds the finishing touch to this that makes it unique and delicious.

Adding chard and lentils
Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup
   - based on a recipe from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine  d'Avila-Latourrette

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cubed
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 small bunch swiss chard leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 bouillon cubes or packets 
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add broth and simmer
In the bottom of a soup pot, pour your oil and heat it. Lightly sauté the garlic, onion and carrot until they turn a golden color. This takes about five to seven minutes. Don't rush this part, because it lays the foundation for the soup's delicate flavor. Also, don't skimp on the olive oil. Four tablespoons seems like an awful lot, but the oil has its place in the soup as well. If you want, you can substitute avocado oil or flaxseed oil for the olive oil, but whatever oil you use, pick an excellent quality one rather than a cheaper brand.

The secret ingredient
Add the lentils, water, chard, and bouillon cubes or packets. If you want to use your own broth, simply replace the "water and bouillon cubes" with "broth of your choice" and carry on! Cover the pot and cook over a medium heat for about 35 minutes. Depending on the kind of lentils you use, this could take 30 minutes to 45 minutes. The lentils should be soft when chewed, but still hold their shape. Check frequently after the 25 minute mark. If you're not sure, let them simmer a further five minutes, because for this soup, a bit long is better than a bit short in timing.

Add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir it all well, and simmer for another ten minutes. Serve hot, with a side of bread or some crackers.

Swiss Chard & Lentil Soup
This is, like all of Brother d'Avila-Latourrette's soups, incredibly easy to make. The addition of the vinegar at the end really makes the flavors pop. On my somewhat delicate stomach, it went down easily and digested fine. I used a Goya bouillon packet rather than my own broth, simply because I was still not quite well and didn't want to fuss around in the kitchen for too long. If I were to make it again, I might use my own chicken broth instead of the bouillon, though!

Linked to from the Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange #115. Want to enter? Click here!
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Also shared on the Homestead Barn Hop #95 (click here to enter!) and the Backyard Farming Connection Hop #16 (click here to enter!).

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