For dinner tonight I had my Barley and Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard, but without the Barley. So I guess that makes it Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup. I made a small version and used what I had on hand. This recipe is very flexible and very simple. The flavors too are quite simple, but a squeeze of fresh lemon at the end rounds out and contrasts exceptionally well with the chard and lentils. It's a subtle but pleasant surprise. I am including the recipe as is, rather than the particular adaptation that I had tonight. (I also didn't include the Swiss chard stems this time.)
Barley and Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard
This soup is hearty and delicious. Why so many optionals in this recipe? Because I have made the soup without all of the optional ingredients based on the lacking of what was in my fridge and the soup was still great. This recipe is very forgiving and a bit more or less of this and that works just as well.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium stocks of celery, chopped (optional)
1 large bunch (about 8 cups) Swiss chard greens, stems separated from the leafs
fresh ground black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
2-3 cups homemade vegetables stock
8 ounces crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
3/4 cup barley, rinsed
3/4 cup French green lentils
1 lemon, sliced (optional)
In a large stockpot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and carrot and celery. Dice up half of the Swiss chard stems and add to the onions and carrots. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until slightly caramelized. Add the chopped garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the vegetable stock and crushed tomatoes. Add another 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the barley and simmer with a lid for about 25 minutes. Add more water if need. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
After 25 minutes add the lentils and cook 30 minutes more or until the barley and lentils are tender. Chop the Swiss chard and add to the soup; stir and let simmer until the chard is wilted. Taste for more salt and pepper. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon juice.