Rainbow Chard Soup
My love for soups is perhaps in my DNA as we eat rather a lot of them in Poland. Traditionally soups are eaten as a first course (out of three) at lunchtime because ‘obiad’ is usually the main course of the day. In the evening you’d just have a light supper. And similarly, I tend to have my soup during the day but as the main dish. Most Polish soups tend not to be blended. In fact, when I first arrived in London 14 years ago, I would joke that all those blended soups are either for small children who haven’t developed their teeth yet or for people who have already lost them! Now I believe that there are some soups that work well blended (pumpkin soup for example) and others that should keep their crunchy texture.
So, depending on how hungry I am, I sometimes ‘fortify’ my soup with some extra carbs. Most of the time I use brown rice, pearl barley, sometimes pasta but – more often than not – I eat a piece of bread on the side, turned into an open sandwich.
The translation of chard into Polish is ‘beetroot leaf’ but I have to disagree: it has a very different taste to beets and it doesn’t colour the soup pink red. (check out my Young Green Beets Soup for comparison).
Personally, I really like its distinctive slightly bitter taste. Plus it’s very hard not to fall in love with the rainbow of colours it creates on your plate.
Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 40 min
- 1 big bunch of rainbow or Swiss chard
- 3 yellow onions or 2 leeks
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 medium size carrots
- 1 parsnip
- ½ medium size celeriac
- 3 tbsp. rapeseed oil or coconut oil
- 1 can of tomatoes
- ½ tube tomato puree
- 1 tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 tbsp. mustard seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. vegetable stock or bouillon
- 3 tbsp. soya yogurt
- 100g Country Soup Mix (dried peas, dried barley, red split lentils, adzuki beans) [optional], rinsed
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Start by ‘preparing’ the bay leaves. To get the most aroma from them you need to literally squash the leaves and put them into a small pan. Pour over 100 ml of boiling water and add a pinch of salt – this will get the boiling point of water to 102C and extract more flavour. Put aside.
2. Properly wash the leaves and stems under a running tap (especially if you buy it organic from a farmers market – I found many ‘additional’ living creatures among the leaves!)
3. Chop the leeks or onions and throw them onto a big base pan (or a frying pan) on a high heat. Then add the coconut oil and stir constantly until they caramelize / become slightly brown. The high temperature and constant stirring is necessary to allow the oxidation of sugars, which means extracting the sweetness of the leeks/onions.
4. Turn down the heat and add garlic.
5. Chop the celeriac, parsnip and carrots into 1cm squares. Add it to the pan with onions. Stir a couple of times.
6. Add the bay leaves water pouring it through a colander to get rid of the leaves.
7. Pour 1.5 litres of boiling water over the vegetables, add the vegetable bouillon, can of tomatoes, the tomato puree, the chard stems and the country soup mix, if using. Bring to boil and then turn down the heat to simmer. Add the chard leaves and simmer for another 40 minutes.
8. Stir in the soya yogurt and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt, if using.
*Any soup (or stew) is always better the next day so plan and cook in advance for a better taste! :)