Miserable day today. Cold, raining and windy. Like it was November already. Good day to grump around the house, really. Then I found beautiful swiss chard and leeks at the market. Instant inspiration. White bean swiss chard soup. This is an savoury soup, smoky from the bacon and earthy from the beans. Serve it with a bit of good bread and you have a meal in a bowl. A meal that warms from within. It’s even healthy. Loaded with legumes and dark greens. And it’s really not that much bacon after all.
I like dark, leafy greens. Spinach, chard, even kale sometimes. They even travel fairly well when it’s the dead of winter. Swiss chard soup, wilted swiss chard, cooked to death southern swiss chard. All good. Chard is my favourite of the lot. I’m still waiting for chard to be the new kale. It’s taking a long time. Maybe I’m wrong in this prediction but if it ever happens, I told you so…
- 1 large bunch of swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 3 slices good quality bacon, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 cups low or no-sodium chicken stock
- 2 19 oz cans white beans
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 Tbsp olive oil plus more to drizzle
- 1 pinch red chili flakes or Calabrian chilies
- juice of ¼ lemon (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.
- Add the bacon and cook until beginning to crisp.
- Now add the leeks and cook over medium low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Next, add the stock, fresh thyme, white beans and chili flakes or Calabrian chilies and simmer 30 minutes.
- Finally add the swiss chard and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice if using.
- Adjust seasonings. I can't tell you how much salt to add. It depends on how much salt is in your stock and white beans.
If you can get your hands on Calabrian chilies they make a great addition. Just replace the crushed chilies with the Calabrian chilies.
Juice of about ¼ lemon brightens this dish up nicely, moving from earthy to a nice fresh flavour.