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Lebanese garlicky lentil soup with Swiss chard and lemon (Rushta/Rishta)

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

I try and cook 300+ unique dishes every year and occasionally I come across a recipe that stands out. This soup is one of these, hearty, flavorful and extremely healthy. Perfect for those cold, hungry, winter nights. Rushta/Rishta is a simple soup to make. I used green lentils that I soaked overnight and then cooked with a bay leaf and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. I always prefer to cook the lentils rather than use canned ones as I can leave them with a wonderful bite. In addition, I used a mix of kale and spinach, Swiss chard was not available. The flavors in this soup are all over the spectrum and linger deliciously on your palate. The lentils add an earthy flavor and texture, the kale is chewy and green, the cilantro adds a herby finish and the lime adds a wonderful tang and brightness to the soup. Traditionally this soup has some pasta added, but the chef opted to leave it out and go on the healthy side.

This is a cookbook that tends to get lost in my large collection of cookbooks. However, whenever I cook from it, the results, like this soup, are amazing. The book is filled with regional and classic recipes from the Middle East.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup brown or green whole lentils

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups finely diced yellow onion

Few generous grinds black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch Swiss Chard, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped into 1-inch pieces, or kale or spinach or greens of choice

3/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lime wedges, to serve

Cilantro, minced, to serve

In a soup pot, bring lentils, 4 cups water, bay leaf, garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are just tender and still have a gentle bite, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Sauté until very soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Swiss chard or greens of choice and cilantro and sauté until bright green and tender. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine, still over the heat.

Add the Swiss chard mixture to the lentils, stir in the lemon juice, and heat through for just a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve warm, but not piping hot, for best flavor. Top bowls of soup with chopped cilantro and serve lime wedges on the side for those who would like some extra tartness.

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