If your family is anything like our family, when you call to order take out (Chinese, Indian, Pizza) the person on the other end of the line can repeat your order to you just by recognizing the sound of your voice. Yes, we’re that predictable. While we make the motions of saying “What should we get tonight?” really, it’s always the same handful of trusted favorites. Right?
The other night we were on the cusp of ordering in Indian, when I decided I had way to many veggies lurking in my fridge. Yes, I had Farmer’s Market guilt. So I decided that even though I was really tired, and didn’t feel like cooking, I‘d be happy (and feel less guilty) if I did.
But once I got that whole Indian food thing in my head, it wasn’t going away. Two items on our Indian repertoire are palek paneer and dal makhani . The first is a silky puree of lightly spiced greens with cubes of fresh cheese. And dal makhani is just the best dal (lentils) you’ve ever had, because they are made with butter.
Rather than make two complicated separate dishes I decided to combine them in a single comforting, soupy mix. It was really easy, completely delicious and I managed to deplete my tiny fridge of one large bag of Swiss Chard.
Indian Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup
1 pound / 1/2 kilo cleaned Swiss Chard or Spinach leaves
3 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil, because I have it, but any neutral kind will do)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 hot red pepper, chopped (or more to taste)
1 cup cooked lentils (I used some leftover lentils, but it’s ok to use canned)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
In a pan large enough to hold all of the soup, heat the oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. When hot, add the onion, and let soften over medium heat for about 12 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, red pepper and salt, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom, mix well, and stir for another two or three minutes.
Add the cleaned spinach or Swiss chard leaves, stuffing them into the pot (they will completely wilt down a lot) and the water. Give a few good stirs, and put the lid on the pot. After about five minutes, the leaves will have wilted. Lift the lid and stir well. Put the lid back on and let cook for another ten minutes.
By this time the vegetables should be well cooked. Take the pot off the heat and , using an immersible blender, puree. Add the lentils, stir and put bak on medium heat for another five minutes. Add lemon juice and final tablespoon of butter, stir and taste for seasoning.