In a tradition dating back to Roman times, some Italians eat a bowl of lentils on January 1 to ensure their wealth, luck and prosperity throughout the New Year because the flat legumes are believed to resemble coins.
My severance pay is coming to an end in a handful of weeks, which means I need to either hope for some of that luck and prosperity or, sadly, start looking for a new job. I’m not sure I’m ready to head back to corporate life. Although on some quiet days I’ve been bored, I’ve relished these six months of keeping my own schedule (which means staying up until 4 a.m. and sleeping until noon), working on projects (with a dozen more on my ‘to do’ list), being a tourist in my own town (museums, hiking and beach time), and having ample time to play in the kitchen. A two-day weekend doesn’t provide near the same freedom (or time!).
Ugh, well, if needs must, but perhaps I’ll start the job search next week. Today, I’ll go the easier route and test the Italian method while I update my resume. And while the tradition may be Italian, I realize this recipe is decidedly not.
Curried Lentil and Chard Soup
- 4 oz. hot Italian sausage (you can also use mild if you’re not a fan of heat)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 ¼ cup dried lentils
- 5 cups chicken stock*
- 3 big handfuls roughly chopped chard leaves, stems reserved for another use
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Greek yogurt (for garnish)
- In a stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté sausage in oil until just beginning to brown. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until onions soften and become translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bay leaves, curry powder, and cumin and sauté briefly. Stir in lentils. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Add chard and continue simmering about 5 minutes until chard is bright green and tender. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve bowls of soup garnished with big dollops of Greek yogurt.
* I use 4 cups of stock (1 container) and 1 cup water rather than open a second container of stock and have leftovers.