Influential American chef and food writer James Beard wrote over 21 books during the course of his career. Known as “The Dean of American Cooking,” he helped educate and mentor countless professional chefs. He died in 1985, but left a strong legacy in the food world with his innovative recipes and culinary excellence. And now there’s a recently published collection of his best recipes– The Essential James Beard Cookbook: 450 Recipes that Shaped the Tradition of American Cooking. I received a review copy and wanted to share a really delicious soup recipe I tried from this book–Lentil Soup with Chard and Lemon. You can substitute spinach for the Swiss chard, which is what I did, and I also added extra garlic to the recipe since I’m such a garlic-lover! It’s a fabulous soup–and it’s so healthy, too! I love the lemon flavor combined with with lentils, onion, and garlic. If a simple soup recipe from this book is so good, can you imagine how great the other recipes must be?
I do have to say, though, that I think one of the reasons the soup was so great was because I used some very high quality olive oil from California Olive Ranch. They generously supplied me with several bottles so I could experiment with some recipes. They offer a great selection of olive oils that come in wonderful glass bottles, which I’m saving to use as vases after the olive oil is all gone! And I read that the distinct green California Olive Ranch bottle actually keeps their premium extra virgin olive oil fresh longer–another plus!
Here’s the soup recipe so you can try it yourself!
LENTIL SOUP WITH CHARD (or Spinach) AND LEMON from The Essential James Beard Cookbook
Makes 6 servings
A rather different, Syrian version of lentil soup, tartened by lemon juice, that is also delicious served cold. Serve with crusty French or Italian bread.
- 1 1/2 cups lentils
- 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or spinach (I used baby spinach leaves)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves ( I used 6 cloves)
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
Put the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and simmer, covered, until tender–between 30 and 45 minutes, depending upon processing; taste to see when done. Wash and chop the chard or spinach, and add to the lentils with 1 cup water. Cook until the chard (or spinach) is wilted.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet. Crush the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute the onion, celery, and garlic until soft, then add to the lentils. Mix the lemon juice and flour and stir into the soup. Simmer, stirring, until the soup thickens slightly. Taste and correct seasoning. serve in soup bowls, with crusty French or Italian bread.
I love lentil soup, and this is such a nice change from the lentil soup I usually make! Are you a lentil soup lover too?