By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches
The new year is a great time to be making proclamations! Get more exercise! Make more! Be more mindful! Don't skip breakfast! But there's one resolution that suits these cold, grey winter days best: eat more soup!
Soup is great because it's affordable and it forces you to take stock of what's hiding in the back of your vegetable crisper. It also makes great leftovers that taste even better the next day, so you don't need to be tempted by buying an overpriced, mediocre lunch at work.
This lentil soup makes use of french green lentils du puy which are wonderful because they don't really break down like other lentils. They stay toothsome and keep their integrity which is a nice thing to have in a soup. I threw in some pinto beans because it's what I had on-hand, but you could easily substitute chickpeas or cannellini beans if you've got those in your cupboard. If you have a turnip or rutabaga on hand, or another hearty green instead of chard, toss those in as well - just add in enough water to make sure everything is just covered.
I've added in a parmesan rind and some sausage, but these could easily be left out if you are looking for a vegetarian or vegan option. I always fish out the cheese rind before I serve the soup because the cheese can be really chewy and an unexpected mouthful - but it is edible, so it's up to you.
Lentil, Bean & Chard Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 large potato, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
1 cup french green lentils, rinsed
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)
salt & pepper
1/4 cup diced ham or sausage (optional)
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 bunch chard, tough ribs removed, sliced
In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute onion, garlic, celery and carrot together for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the potato, spices and lentils and stir about for a few minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, cheese rind (if using) and about 6 cups of water. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in cooked pinto beans, ham or sausage (if using) and chard. Let cook for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and parmesan rind before serving and taste to see if more salt or pepper are needed. Serve with thick slices of country bread.
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