Top | Mediterranean Grains and Greens

Middle Eastern Chard and Lentil Soup

(recipe, Paula Wolfert)

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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. 1 cup dark mini-lentils, such as Spanish pardina or Egyptian, Ethiopian, or Indian whole masoor dal
  2. 1 tsp. salt
  3. 2 qt. light chicken stock (optional)
  4. 1 medium potato, peeled and sliced paper thin
  5. 1 cup chopped onion
  6. 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  7. 8 large Swiss chard leaves
  8. 1 lb. leafy greens, such as spinach, dandelions, arugula, watercress, beet greens, kale, or a mixture
  9. ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  10. 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  11. ⅓ 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.