Arab Table Lentil and Chard Stew

Lentil. Chard. Stew. Three words that tend to induce reactions varying from mild disgust to gagging, and I threw them all together in the title of this recipe. But please give lentils and chard another chance, because this stuff is really, really good.

I think the reason people hate lentils (or think they do) is because they usually eat them when they aren’t cooked enough (and there’s not much worse than chalky lentils). That was definitely my problem for a few years. Here, they’re nice and tender, with chunks of potato, and great flavor from the cilantro, cumin, garlic, and lemon. The chard is also completely benign here because it just blends right into the background of the soup, so no in-your-face chard flavor, which I always used to hate.

When you have a crowd to feed or want leftovers for days, and don’t want to spend a ton of money but still feel satisfied, give this stew a try! I found the recipe in a book from the library called The Arab Table and I’m definitely excited to sample more of the recipes in it.

(adapted from The Arab Table by May S. Bsisu)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups brown lentils
8 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 pound rainbow chard, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
thin slices of lemon, for garnish

Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a large soup pan over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the lentils and the water, bring to a boil, then cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and salt and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chard and cook for about 10 minutes. The chard should wilt and the potatoes should be tender.

Heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic, cilantro, cumin, and coriander and saute for about 5 minutes. Stir into the stew along with the lemon juice, adding water if it seems too thick. Stir well, then taste and add more salt and lemon juice if necessary. Serve garnished with thin slices of lemon.

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