Lentil and Swiss Chard soup

December 14, 2008  •  Category:

This is my all-time favorite soup! It is rustic, comforting, with the wonderful taste of lemon in the broth and it can be prepared in a snap! It is made up of ingredients which constitute an absolute powerhouse of nutrients! Lentils are rich in fiber, iron and magnesium ( good for the heart and to stabilize blood sugar). Swiss chard is exceptionally nutritious with very high concentrations of vitamin K (for bone health) as well as vitamin A (for lung health) as well as minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Fresh lemon juice will ward off the cold and other viruses… When the weather starts to cool, that’s the soup I want in my fridge or freezer. Sahteyn!


1 cup of chopped onion

2 cups of lentils

1 bunch of swiss chard ( can substitute kale or any other leafy greens)

2 or 3 lemons

1/4 cup of cilantro pesto (alyyeh) prepared and stored in freezer or make it (see note)

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed (optional) (can be replaced by zucchini)

1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed (optional)



  1. Fry the onion in the olive oil till golden.
  2. Add the lentils to the pot with about 6 cups of water or stock.  Bring to a boil and cook at a slow simmer till the lentils are cooked, about one hour total time.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, wash the swiss chard. Using a paring knife, remove the thick ribs and set aside ( to use for Swiss chard hummus ) and chop by piling the leaves on top of each other.
  4. Add the cubed potatoes and garbanzo beans ( if using a can, rinse it first )to the soup pot.
  5. Add the swiss chard leaves about 15 minutes later.
  6. Add the cilantro pesto the last 5 minutes of cooking. Add lemon juice to the soup.  Serve hot or at room temperature and place a lemon quarter next to each individual soup bowl in case someone wants more lemon flavor in their soup.
  7. Serves 6 people.


Check the post on cilantro pesto ( alyyeh ) for directions as it is a good idea to have some stored away.

Large green lentils are preferable to use although the small brown ones are fine.

Spinach, collard greens, or kale  can be used instead of swiss chard.

To make cilantro pesto: Chop a bunch of cilantro (stems cut-off and washed well); pound 4 to 6 cloves of garlic with salt in a mortar. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil or ghee in a small skillet and fry the garlic and cilantro a few seconds mixing them well to combine, until the fragrance is released (no more than 5 seconds). Immediately transfer the pesto to the soup and mix. Serve with some quartered lemons on the side.



5 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Tina Issa says:

    Hi Joumana,
    I just wanted to thank you for your blog, this is by far the best middle eastern food website. Your recipes are accurate and very close to what I make. I am Palestinian and I enjoy your descriptions of Lebanon, it is beautiful like Palestine. In addition I have learned a lot of new things. I really appreciate your explanation of greens, like Ba’laa (purslane) and Hindbeh. I am having a hard time finding Ba’laa, I love it so much..I am going to ask my local store to order it for me. This was really valuable to me. Keep up the great work.

    • Joumana says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and appreciation! You made my day! I hope my post on mussakhan met with your approval! as far as ba’laa (purslane)
      I have had good luck at Mexican or hispanic markets, it is very much appreciated by the Mexican community. I had ordered some seeds that I gave to a friend and she got the ba’laa growing quite well in her yard, next to her m’lookhiyeh! I hope your store will honor your request! Take care, Joumana

  2. christelle says:

    Aaah ! Je savais que je trouverais une recette de cette soupe ici ! Je viens de la préparer selon la recette de ma mère… mais pour la rédaction de mes billets, j’adore aller fouiller sur des blogs comme le tien et voir les différentes variantes, les différents noms que portent le plat, et son histoire ! La recette est sensiblement la même mais ma mère rajoute des boulettes de boulghour et de semoule dedans : c’est si bon ! Je mets la recette en ligne aujourd’hui normalement… 🙂

  3. AS says:

    This was so delicious! Thank you for posting this recipe, which I find to be the best among all the adas recipes I’ve seen online.

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