Last Saturday, I went to a Farmer's Market near my mother's house in California. Their planting season is several weeks ahead of us here on the East Coast, so it was great to see so many wonderful fruits and vegetables laid out on rows and rows of tables.
Now that farmer's markets are slowly opening again after a long winter, please take advantage of them. It's great to be able to meet and speak with the person who grew the food you're going to put on the dinner table.
One of the veggies that caught my eye last Saturday was Swiss Chard. I only recently began cooking with it, and it really is a delicious and vitamin-rich ingredient that can be added to just about any dish. Today, I'm combining Swiss Chard with lentils to make a tasty and healthy soup. This recipe makes a big batch of soup, but as you know, soup is always better the second day. :)
Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup
1 lb lentils, rinsed and picked over
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
8-10 Swiss Chard leaves, stems and leaves coarsely chopped (about two cups)
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced
3-4 leeks, white part only, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 tb olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tb cumin seeds
juice from 1 lemon
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
Boil lentils in 3 1/2 quarts water for about thirty minutes.
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pan and saute leeks, green onions and garlic. Stir often, until softened and golden. Add swiss chard and cook 2 minutes.
Add sautéed mixture, along with all the other vegetables, salt and pepper to the lentils. Continue simmering for an additional 30 minutes.
Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet, stirring constantly, until they release their fragrance. Grind them with a mortar and then add to soup, along with cayenne and lemon juice.
Simmer for a few minutes more. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed.