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Swiss Chard & Lentil Soup

Swiss Chard & Lentil Soup

Like most people, I do better when there is sunshine and greenery. But like many Chicagoans, I choose to forget how depressing winter can be because our summer and fall so fantastic. And that's why we still live here and whine the entire month of April because goddammit it should be warm by now and it's not and it's even snowing and that's cruel and unusual punishment and I'm mad about this whole thing. Blerg.


To cope with our snowy April, we have still been eating many winter foods - stews, soups, and roasted vegetables. This recipe is a variation on my Lentils and Spinach recipe from a few months ago - this time around, I'm using milder red lentils and heartier Swiss chard. The technique is exactly the same, so you can really mix and match. You boil the lentils with some flavorings, temper some hot spices in ghee, add the greens, and mix them all in. I have some brief background on tempering in the older post, along with some information on ghee. Trust me, you will want to use ghee here, instead of another oil or fat. Ghee is what makes this distinct.

Serves 3-4


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes or 1 small vine tomato
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 dried red chilis (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste


  1. Prep the Swiss chard. Wash them thoroughly and separate the stems from the leaves. Dice the stems and set aside. Roll up the leaves into one bunch and chop, to make ribbons. You can also just roughly chop the leaves.
  2. Add the dry lentils to a pot and dry roast over a medium heat for 2-3 mins. Add in the chard stems, tomatoes, turmeric, salt and all of the water and broth. Cover and cook for 30 mins over medium heat. Stir about halfway through.
  3. Next, add in the chard leaves, lower the heat, and cook for another 5 mins.
  4. While the chard cooks, temper your spices. This will go very quickly. In a small pan (see image below), melt the ghee over medium high heat. Once melted, add in the red chili and toast for a few seconds, Next, add in the cumin seeds and garlic. Tilt the pan so that the ghee gathers at one end. With a spoon, baste the spices to toast all sides. Stop as soon as the garlic looks golden brown, about a minute - be careful to not burn the garlic.
  5. Turn off the heat for the lentils, add in your tempered spices, and mix well. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
  6. Squeeze a little lime juice and serve!
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