Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lebanese Lentil Soup Marries My Roots and Shoots Farm Swiss Chard

I know little of foreign relations but I trust that all is well between Lebanon and Switzerland.  At least it is in my kitchen. My absolute favourite way to eat Swiss chard is in Lebanese Lentil Soup.  I have a few friends that make something similar and they provided the inspiration to include this dish in my repertoire.

It is a dish that is well sought after in the colder months. But knowing how the Ottawa seasons seem to include many climates, I knew I just needed to wait a few days and the scene would be right.

Yesterday, while many were considering building an ark on our dark and stormy Tuesday, I took much comfort in my Lebanese Lentil Soup, loaded up with my entire head of Swiss chard from my last Roots and Shoots Farm CSA basket. For good measure I included a few of my CSA spring onions too.

It is a big batch and kinder weather has returned.  The remainder is now in containers to be enjoyed later. It freezes so well.

Inspired by Mary Salloum's A Taste of Lebanon: Cooking Today The Lebanese Way and two special friends that are lentil soup fans

1 pound lean ground beef
4 cooking onions, evenly chopped
2 spring onions including the greens
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup lentils
5 tablespoons ground cumin
10 cups water
1 bundle Swiss chard, chopped
12 small potatoes (cherry tomato size), halved, leaving the skin on if in good shape
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
lemon juice

Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven. Season the meat. Sauté the beef until fully browned. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are softened.

Clean the Swiss chard and then rip the leaves from the stems.  Rough chop the leaves into manageable pieces for eating, but not too small.  Chop the stems.

Add the ground cumin and cook for 1 or 2 minutes to bring out the fragrance of the spice.

Add lentils, water, Swiss chard, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on until the lentils are tender, say 1 hour.  I will let the soup stay on the stove on a low simmer for 3 or 4 hours to let the flavours incorporate.  Add water or broth if it needs thinning.

I find the soup tastes much better the next day.  Consider adding more cumin to your taste as the strength of cumin can vary by variety and age. Adjust the salt to your tastes too.  Potatoes take a lot of salt to cook. Finish seasoning just before serving.

When you serve it up, sprinkle a few drops of lemon the top of the soup.

Great accompanied with freshly baked bread.


  1. Absolutely stunning! I cannot imagine what 5 tablespoons of ground cumin must taste like in a soup, but I have never been introduced to a Lebonese recipe I didn't enjoy!.

    1. You've outed me Valerie! I believe authentic Shourabit Adas does not have cumin but it goes so well with everything in the soup being water based. Maybe my cumin is mild. I started with a few tablespoons and kept adding. Maybe I should suggest that gradation in the ingredient list. It really is a soul-warming soup. Any plans to head to Ottawa?


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