Feb 23, 2014

Chard, Red Lentil & Potato Slow Cooker Soup

I don't know what the weather's been like where you are, but here in NYC, this winter has been a BEAST. Every time we think we're getting a respite (like today when it's sunny and in the 50's), it lasts for a couple of days and then, just when we're starting to relax, we're hit with another polar vortex and temperatures drop down thirty degrees overnight and stay that way for another week.

My favorite season is summer and I really do not handle cold weather well. So my first inclination at times like these is to hibernate and not leave the house (or my bed) again until spring. Sadly, that's not an option. But I can make soups -- warming, delicious, vegetable-filled, stick-to-your ribs soups, to be exact. Like this one that I adapted from Oh My Veggies, a fabulous vegetarian food blog that I just recently stumbled upon.

I had an enormous bunch of chard that was starting to wilt and so I wanted an easy way to use it up but I needed to be in and out of the house all day. However, I still wanted to come home to a hot meal. That, my friends, is a perfect time to dust off your slow cooker, fill it up and forget about it while you do sundry other things like go to work, defrost yourself and do laundry. Ah, laundry. Because the more clothes you have to wear, the more you have to wash (yet another reason to prefer summer).

But this soup only dirties two dishes -- your slow cooker and a skillet to saute the aromatics. And if you're lucky (and I am), both of those can go into the dishwasher. So, really, what have you got to lose? If you have the extra time, soak the lentils overnight with some kombu (or, if you're really good about planning ahead, even do it for a few days so they can sprout). If not, no worries -- they'll be just as delicious. I prefer red lentils for this soup since they melt down into the broth, making it into more of a stew. For extra protein, serve with chicken or, to make it heartier, over rice. Turn leftovers into lasagna. Bon appetit!

I'm making this my submission for Wellness Weekend, hosted and created by Ricki Heller!

Chard, Lentil & Potato Slow Cooker Soup
adapted from Oh My Veggies

If you have time, soak lentils and kombu in a clean bowl with enough cold water to cover them by several inches, for anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days. If going the sprouting route, change water 3 times/day.

Drain lentils and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and Swiss chard stems and cook, covered, 8 minutes.

Place cooked aromatics, lentils, potatoes, broth and liquid aminos into slow cooker. Stir so everything is nicely mixed up together and cook 8 hours on low.

When cooked, stir in Swiss chard leaves and raise slow cooker temperature to high. Cover and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until chard is soft and has integrated into the soup. Serve, topped with salt and pepper. Enjoy!


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