Meatless Monday coincides with Soup Week II, so naturally we need a meatless soup here. Beans make a natural choice in this spot, but so do lentils. Packed to their outer shell with protein, fiber, folates and vitamins, lentils may rank as one of the world’s healthiest foods, up there with blueberries, almonds and chicken wings. (Side note: Canada is the world’s largest producer of lentils. Who knew?)
Dried lentils found at grocery are typically brown. Drawn from any number of varieties, according to the very smart people at TheKitchn.com, these are mild but earthy and cook rather effortlessly. Red lentils are most commonly found in Indian cooking. They get mushy quite easily, so you will see them as part of curries or dals. For this soup, I opted for green lentils.
Lentils du Puy, or green lentils, are French in origin and have a more robust, peppery flavor. They take quite a bit of time to cook, which is fine if you are making a soup that begs to be simmered into a thick broth. Why did I choose them? Easy. I’ve never cooked with them before.
WHAT WORKED: These lentils are hardy. They withstood the soup reducing, a refrigeration (I cooked this on Sunday and served it on Monday), and reheat. The red one would have likely fallen apart.
WHAT DIDN’T: I think that the soup got a little close to freezing in my enclosed, but not insulated, back hallway, as it took forever to warm up.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. Really easy.
BEST FOR: A protein-packed dinner with a meat alternative.
SERVE WITH: A baguette or other crusty bread.
Lentil and Chard Soup
By Jared Paventi
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced fine
- 2 small carrots, diced fine
- 1 celery stalk, diced fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. coarse-ground, bottled mustard
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cups green lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 cups rainbow or Swiss chard, chopped
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion, carrot and celery. Toss to coat in the oil and saute for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and mustard, stirring in and cooking an additional couple of minutes.
Pour in the wine and use a heavy wooden spoon to scrape up any burned on particles from the bottom of the pan. Give the items in the pan a vigorous stir with your spoon, then add the bay leaf, lentils, and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes.
Taste the broth and adjust the flavors with salt and pepper.
(I chilled the soup at this point to eat the next day. If you do this, return your soup to a gentle simmer.)
Add the chard and cook until the stems are tender, about 4 to 8 minutes. Check the flavors and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve hot.