KITCHEN TIP: Read the recipe thoroughly before you start cooking so that you can pull your ingredients together and avoid missing steps. Including your title ingredients is key. I mean, if you’re making chicken parm but forget the chicken, all you have is melted cheese and red sauce. Am I right?
The order of the universe went awry when I put this together a couple of Mondays ago. I bought all of the ingredients, a small miracle considering how frequently I have been missing things when making my grocery list. I had planned to eliminate the sausage and make this a Meatless Monday friendly dish. No, my problem was that I forgot the damn chard. So, essentially, I made lentil soup. Don’t get me wrong, it came out fine, but I really missed the flavor that chard takes on when mixed with tomato.
The Wife never had chard before marrying me. Truth be told, I only introduced it to her a couple of years ago. As a kid, it was the vegetable side dish for steak pizzaola. It’s a hearty green that you can cook the hell out of with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and tomato sauce without worry. The acid from the tomatoes brings out different flavors in the greens and makes for a nice side. While I was disappointed that I forgot the chard, I was happy with the final product.
WHAT WORKED: Cutting corners. Again, I went with Wegmans‘ diced mirepoix instead of cutting my own celery, onion and carrot. The time I saved in prepping veggies on a Monday night saved me quite a bit of time.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: I don’t remember. It was nearly a week ago when I made this. I stink.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Lentils are always welcome in my kitchen.
Lentil soup with chard and garlic
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
- Kosher salt
- A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch fo salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, broth, more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we preferred ours on the thick side.)
When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Drizzle this over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.