I am a new member to a CSA, Potomac Vegetable Farms. I have been tired of making the same old things, and have been trying to eat healthier, and signing up to get fresh produce that I might not normally select seemed like a good way to mix it up a bit. Swiss chard has been one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed receiving as I like greens, but I would have never thought to pick it up and try it in the store. I’ve made a great frittata and have just simply sauteed with garlic and olive oil and they are quite tasty. Since autumn is in the air, I thought I’d try to use it in a soup, and it did not disappoint. I also went the extra step of caramelizing the onions first, which, I think made a big flavor difference. This is a small batch, as I made it for myself, but could easily be doubled. Serves roughly 2 main dish portions.
Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup
- 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly 6 leaves (pull leaves from the stem and chop roughly, then cut the stems into one inch pieces)
- 3 cloves minced garlic, divided (or more depending on your taste)
- 1/2 sliced carrot
- 1 tablespoon butter (you’ll need 2 total)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 can of chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces (I normally use the precooked variety since it’s always on hand)
First, melt the butter and olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add one clove of garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the chard stems and carrots, sauteing for a few minutes. Add a half cup of water, place a lid on top, and steam the veggies for about 8 minutes. Check them every few minutes to make sure that they are not burning, as the water will eventually evaporate. The idea is to get them a bit browned, without burning them.
At the same time, melt another tablespoon of butter in medium saute pan, over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and a garlic clove. Saute for 2 – 3 minutes, until the onions start to soften. Pour the wine over top (you can use chicken broth if you don’t want to use wine), letting the wine evaporate. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook the onions, stirring frequently so they don’t burn, until they turn a golden brown color, this should take about 10 minutes. You can add a little bit more liquid at a time, if you think they are drying out too much, but they should caramelize without adding much more, if any. Once this is done, add the bacon and saute for a minute or two. Then, add onion mixture to the swiss chard stems and carrot mixture. Add the water, broth, lentils, thyme, rosemary, baking soda (this helps the lentils to soften) and another garlic clove–you can also add more salt and pepper to taste at this point. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Next add the chopped swiss chard leaves, and stir to submerge. Continue to cook for roughly another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked to your liking. For a thicker consistency, you can bring to a low boil for a few minutes, for thicker consistency–if you prefer the soup smoother and even more thick, it is easily pureed with an immersion blender as well…I enjoy it sprinkled with a bit of parmesan cheese as well–goes great with fresh bread. Even though it seems like many steps, it sure had some nice flavors to it, and hit the spot on a cool evening. Enjoy!