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Middle Eastern Chard and Lentil Soup

From the book Mediterranean Grains and Greens by
Serves 8
Yield 10 cups


Here’s a light soup for all seasons. In summer, serve it cool or at room temperature to refresh; in winter, serve it hot to nourish. It’s delicious with grilled bread topped with crushed oily black olives and sprinkled with oregano.

This soup is even better when you add another green to the chard. In early spring I combine chard and dandelions; in summer, chard and arugula; in winter, chard and spinach.

Use any lentil you like. For me, the most savory is the small Spanish pardina lentil, available through Phipps Ranch or the small brown lentils available at Middle Eastern and Indian groceries.

A potato, cut paper-thin so it will dissolve, is cooked along with the lentils to thicken the soup and give it a rich creamy texture.


1 cup dark mini-lentils, such as Spanish pardina or Egyptian, Ethiopian, or Indian whole masoor dal
1 tsp. salt
2 qt. light chicken stock (optional)
1 medium potato, peeled and sliced paper thin
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 large Swiss chard leaves
1 lb. leafy greens, such as spinach, dandelions, arugula, watercress, beet greens, kale, or a mixture
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Wash and pick over the lentils. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with the stock or 2 quarts water salted with 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that surfaces. Add the potato, partially cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet, slowly brown the onion in the olive oil. Meanwhile, wash, stem, and roughly shred the greens. You should have about 1 packed quart. Add the cilantro and garlic to the skillet and sauté for a minute or two, then stir in the greens and allow them to wilt, covered.
  3. Scrape the contents of the skillet, including the oil, into the saucepan and continue cooking another 20 minutes, or until thick and soupy. Stir in the lemon juice and serve hot, lukewarm, or cool.
mediterranean grains and greens

This content is from the book Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert.

There are 4 comments on this item
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0% recommend this recipe
1. by Virginia Bruce on Mar 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM PDT

I always strip the leafy part from the stems of all my greens, and then treat them almost as 2 different vegetables. You can remove the woodiest part of the stem (it will often break easily at that point, like you do when snapping asparagus) then chop them in short pieces, and cook them a little longer so they’re tender. Then use the greens later in the process. That way you’re not throwing away so much good food.

2. by jonnier on May 11, 2011 at 7:42 PM PDT

I love the concept of this recipe but the execution was not great. The instructions left a bit to be desired, namely how high the heat should be. I assume you reduce heat after the water comes to a boil. Also, some instructionm on how big of a put to use. When I realized how much greens had to go in, I had to switch my lentils from my 3.5 qt saucepan into a larger pot.
I used broccoli rabe, which I admit is super bitter but many of the recommended greens are bitter as well. I also added toasted and ground cumin seeds and more salt to punch up the flavor as the soup was a bit bland. What I think ruined the soup was the addition of lemon. It tasted fine until I did that, it threw off the flavor. I might try again without the lemon and with a different green - maybe I’ll up the chard. Otherwise, I’m on a search for another similar recipe that works better.

3. by Carrie Floyd on May 13, 2011 at 10:23 AM PDT

It’s amusing to me when a reader complains about a recipe all the while admitting that he/she made changes, substituted ingredients. Though it’s hard to fight the instinct to alter a recipe, I try to make it first by the recipe, then if I think it has promise but to my taste warrants change, then I change it. I adore this soup: the earthy taste of lentils and Swiss chard combined, the bright tartness of the lemon.

4. by jonnier on May 18, 2011 at 5:36 PM PDT

I’m glad I could amuse you. I would say only this, I thought there was too much lemon in the recipe. This is coming from someone who thinks lemon improves almost any dish. The lemon fights too much with the bitter greens that the recipe calls for, thus why I suggested that next time I would increase the chard and decrease the bitter greens. Why is it called Chard soup if there is a lb of another green in it?

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