With the threat of a storm as Hurricane Earl made its way up the East Coast, it was a good day to stay inside and make some homemade soup for my friends with cancer, “B” and “J.” My friend “B” had suggested some lentil soup, which seems to be her favorite kind, so I set out to make a French lentil soup with grains and greens, to make it extra healthy, and serve as a meal in itself.
Making homemade soups is probably one of the most satisfying foods I make. Homemade soups are easy to make, create a warm, comforting aroma, and are extremely forgiving. Almost anything can be added to soup, and a large quantity can be made easily.
While I was in the middle of making my lentil soup, Doris Sokosh, author of the newly published book, Triumph Over Cancer, called. Doris was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 1971, and given little hope of survival. 39 years later, Doris just published a cookbook which includes recipes for foods she ate during her recovery from a near death experience.
Unfortunately, poor Doris informed me that she was staying at a facility undergoing physical therapy for a chronic back problem, and that the food was terrible. Perfect timing, I told her, as I was making soup today, plenty to go around.
As I continued with my soup making, I decided to choose barley as the grain of choice and rainbow chard for the leafy green vegetable. Alternatively, brown rice, farro, or just about any whole grain can be used. Leafy green vegetable choices might include spinach, kale, or collard greens.
Here’s one of my favorite homemade soup recipes:
French Lentil Soup with Barley and Rainbow Chard
- 2 cups French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek, white and tender green parts only, washed thoroughly, and finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (a mix of savory, fennel, basil and thyme)
- 1 cup barley, rinsed and then soaked in water for at least 1 hour
- 12-14 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 1 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, washed and thinly slice
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Saute leeks, onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add lentils, barley, spices and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, about 1 ½ hours. Add more broth or water as needed. Add tomatoes and cook ½ hour longer. Stir in swiss chard and cook until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
More Homemade Lentil Soup Recipes: