Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard & Chickpeas

Tonight, despite the leftovers begging to be released from their (glass, because when my mom found out about BPA, you can guess what was under the Christmas tree) Tupperware containers, I decided to forge ahead with a plan for lentil soup.  It’s freezing and windy and tomorrow it might even snow here (let’s keep our fingers crossed!!).

You may recall lentil soup with Swiss chard is a staple around here…but I recently bought some garam masala and why not?  Enter Bon Appetit’s plan to integrate curry and garbanzo beans + a few small tweaks, because I just can’t help myself, especially around garlic.

back to our cilantro ways!
back to our cilantro ways!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 teaspoons curry powder
  • small handful cayenne
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • pinch garam marsala (optional)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups veggie broth, plus or minus (depending on if you like lentil soup vs. stand-alone lentils)
  • 1 cup red lentils (what is Bon Appetit thinking, calling for a pound!?)
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • salt and sugar – in case the curry comes out a little bitter, more on this later
  • optional/for topping: plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cooked brown rice, avocado
  1. If serving with rice (in the Husband’s view, you can’t over-carb), get your water boiling – the rice will take about the same time as the soup, if you get it going first (especially if using jasmine rice).  Cook rice according to directions and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook the onions down, until translucent, over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute; add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, crushed reds, and garam masala.  Mix well and then add broth and Swiss chard; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the lentils and reduce the heat.  Split lentils will take significantly less time to cook than non-split ones; if working with split lentils, add the chickpeas now.  If not, let the lentils cook down a bit before adding the chickpeas.  Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Taste your soup & adjust accordingly.  Mine was quite bitter and a bit heavy on the seasonings.  To counteract this, I added (very small & equal) amounts of salt and sugar and stirred until dissolved, until I was able to bring the bite down a bit.
  5. Before serving, add the lime juice and stir.  Serve with brown rice, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt and cilantro.  TIP: Mixing the yogurt all the way through will also serve to counteract any lingering bitterness and really bring all of the flavors together, though obviously, this won’t work for the lactose-intolerant.

The Verdict:

Around step 4, I got really worried.  In the Husband’s words, it tasted “not bad…like water, with seasonings.”  However, I’m starting to trust myself a bit more, and rather than resign myself to bad soup (which I have definitely foisted upon the Husband before – cue the burned-pumpkin-soup story from our days of pre-dating, which he ate up with a big, if forced, smile.), I actually fixed it, with salt, sugar, and a bit more time stewing.  This turned out deliciously – warm, tasty, and filling (another) happy Tupperware container to bring for lunch.  Topped with avocado, next time!

more avocado, please.
more avocado, please.
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Chickpea Burgers with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

The Husband loves falafel so much that for our six month wedding anniversary (side note: how has it already been six months!?) I bought him a $12 gift card (enough for a combo meal, oh-so-generous) to our local late night falafel shop.  Except we now generally go during the day because we’re old and find ourselves listening to Serial and falling fast asleep by 11PM on weekends.  He was so excited.  Being married is awesome.

These burgers, adapted from the Healthy in a Hurry cookbook my mom-in-law bought me a few years ago, are a (healthier) take on falafel.

Chickpea Burgers with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

For the Burgers

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-6 green onions, washed and white bulbs removed
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • a good dash crushed red pepper
  • olive oil (for sauteing)

For the Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons or so finely diced cucumber
  • grated lemon zest
  • 1 small container plain Greek yogurt
  • chopped parsley
  • dash salt and pepper
  1. Starting with the chickpeas, combine all of the burger ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor.  Pulse until a rough mixture forms.
  2. Form the mixture into four patties.  The mixture is a little wet and prone to falling apart; if you put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or so, this will really help the patties bind.
  3. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat; add patties and cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes or until golden.  Flip and cook an additional few minutes.
  4. While the burgers cook, make your sauce by combining all of your ingredients and mixing thoroughly.
  5. Serve burgers either on top of salad or in a warmed pita; serve sauce on top of the burger.
looks like christmas around here.
we take christmas colors seriously around here.

The Verdict:

After polishing off his burger and going for seconds, the Husband declared that our local falafel shop has some serious competition.  I couldn’t ask for a better compliment – I think these will become a go-to around here!  Try them with regular falafel toppings – beets, tabbouleh, pickles, anything your heart desires.

Salad Rules: Chickpea and Radicchio with Tahini

So we know Ina and Martha are in a battle for the number one spot in my kitchen.  But clearly, there’s another queen of daytime television (maybe not the Food Network, but she HAS been dubbed the “queen of all media”) that we’ve been neglecting.  I’m talking, of course, about Oprah.

I was never a big Oprah Winfrey Show fan.  There was something a little too voyeuristic about the emotions and tears shared and shed on air (that might be the New England in me).  But I will admit it: reading O Magazine has become a huge (if guilty) pleasure.  This recipe from the January issue (with a few tweaks, of course!).

Chickpea and Radicchio Salad with Tahini Dressing

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly chopped (white parts discarded)
  • a big handful parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • handful ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons or so olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons or so tahini
  • 1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced (because the number one rule about salad: it’s always better with avocado)
  1. Put chickpeas in a saute pan and pour enough water to cover them, just barely.  Bring to a simmer over low heat and heat all the way through.
  2. While chickpeas heat, combine scallions, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Mix in the tahini and coat with the olive oil.  Drain the chickpeas, add them to the bowl, and give it a good toss.
  3. Add the radicchio to the bowl and toss with the chickpea mixture.  Serve with parsley, avocado, and a few turns of cracked sea salt.
avocado makes everything better.
avocado makes everything better.

The Verdict:

Um, hello, Oprah!  (Or rather, Deborah Madison, who wrote the recipe.)  I once read somewhere that radicchio is “bawlingly bitter.”  That’s a bit true – and this salad would probably be even better if I had done a quick toss of the radicchio and olive oil in a warm saute pan.  But even as is, this was completely delicious.  A definite repeat!