Swiss Chard and Red Lentil Soup

On a recent trip to Gaza with World Food Programme, I was utterly bowled over by the fabulous Palestinian food that I ate. On our second day, we drove south to an area called Khan Yunis where we met a lovely family who cooked us a rather splendid chard and red lentil soup, which I believe is called ‘Saliq u Adas.’ The simple soup is very hearty and great winter fodder, pepped up by a very spicy mix of dill, garlic and fresh chillies, something that the local palette adore. Traditionally, it is made by grinding dill seeds and then smashing in chillies and garlic. The seeds are quite hard to find in London so I have adapted the recipe to be more supermarket friendly. Enjoy.


1. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and chard stalks and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until soft. Chuck 3 cloves of the garlic and the cumin, chilli flakes, red lentils and chard leaves into the pan. Pour over the stock and stir together. Bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
2. Meanwhile, using a pestle and mortar or mini chopped, bash the green chillies, dill and remaining garlic into a paste with a little salt. Add the remaining olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Mix together.
3. Using a hand blender, blitz the soup leaving a little texture. Add the remaining lemon juice and mix well. Check the seasoning and add more salt to taste. Serve immediately with the chilli paste dolloped over the top.


Serves 4-6

4 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
400g chard, stems finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
250g red lentils
1 1/2l chicken or vegetable stock
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of dill
The juice of 1 ½ lemons
Sea salt

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