Lentil & rainbow chard soup
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
100g rainbow chard
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
225g green lentils
1.2 litres hot chicken, lamb or vegetable stock
salt and ground black pepper
Grown all along the Mediterranean coastline, chard, along with spinach and cabbage, is one of the most popular green vegetables used in Middle Eastern cooking, now hailed around the world for its highly nutritious properties. Bunches of what is sold as ‘rainbow chard’ are actually just a mixture of a few varieties – Swiss, golden and red – each with a slightly different flavour: earthy, nutty and sweet. If you can’t find rainbow chard, just go for Swiss chard, which is more widely available, or use spinach leaves in place of the chard leaves (ideally the hardy leaves with the thick stalks).
Put the onion in a pan with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until the onion starts to turn golden at the edges. Give the pan a shake every now and then to toss the onions around in the oil.
Finely chop the stems of the rainbow chard and stir into the glistening onions along with the garlic and cumin. Season well.
Add the lentils and stock, then put a lid on the pan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down low and cook for 30-35 minutes until the lentils are soft.
Chop the chard leaves, leaving any tiny ones whole to decorate the top of the soup, and stir into the soup along with a squeeze of lemon. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the leaves have softened then serve.
If you prefer a smooth soupy cool the soup before adding the chopped chard leaves. Pure in a food processor or blender then pour the soup back into a pan, add the chard and heat through.