Stews are excellent recipes because they typically call for ingredients you already have in the cupboard, are easy and quick to put together, and the slow simmering creates a fantastic flavor. This stew is so simple, and yet so satisfying. Just a few ingredients are called for this healthy meal, so it works for a filling meal on a budget. You can make it up early in the week and enjoy the leftovers for days.
I did a vegan version of this recipe by leaving out the cheeses. It is absolutely delicious without it, and you won't miss the cheese.
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This is the kind of recipe that I just love to make. It's nothing showy and has pretty basic ingredients, stuff that you would have in your pantry and refrigerator. It is easy to make, it's really good for you and it is totally delicious and satisfying.
I used swiss chard and you could even use spinach in this, but with much less cooking time. You get this going on the stove and then you can go ahead and do some other task and come back forty minutes later to this wonderful soupy stew.
I had some leftovers and the next day I added some vegetable stock that I had left from my Jambalaya ate had it as a soup for lunch. I liked the feta cheese on top, but for a vegan version of this, leave it off and leave out the Parmesan rind.
This recipe is adapted from The New York Times, October 10, 2011.
Lentil and swiss chard stew
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lentils, preferably green lentils, washed and picked over (2 1/4 cups)
A bouquet garni made with 2 bay leaves, a Parmesan rind and a sprig or two each of thyme and parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard (3/4 to 1 pound), stemmed, washed and coarsely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan, crumbled goat cheese or feta for serving
1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the lentils, 2 quarts water and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bouquet garni.
2. Stir the chard into the simmering lentils. Cook another 10 minutes or so, until the lentils and greens are tender. The chard should be tender but still bright. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan or crumbled feta, if desired.