Friday, September 17, 2010

House Calls: Lentil-Chard Soup

Is it weird that my endocrinologist calls me at 11 p.m. to tell me that he's going to increase the dose of my medication, even when it's not an emergency?  Or calls me at 9 a.m. on a Sunday to tell me that he thinks I should start taking iron (that was months ago)?  Or answers his own phone when I call his office sometimes?  Or is there alone when I arrive for my 8:30 a.m. appointment?

Or is it just that he subscribes to the old-fashioned image of the medical professional, who still makes house calls?

I'm glad he does, though, even if it is a little weird.  Poorly treated (or untreated) hypothyroidism in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preenclampsia, congestive heart failure, and anemia.  It's one reason I switched doctors; I just couldn't ignore the fact that my losses may have been linked to a poorly treated (though identified) medical condition I already knew I had.  It's also a reason that I still can't be completely confident about a safe delivery, even if the Bean is doing backflips in there somtimes.  There are still days, especially if I don't feel anything in there for a while, that I can only close my eyes and hope.  Four months is a long way to go.

Time does pass, though, and it's starting to feel more like fall, here, which means soup season.  I was feeling a little bad about slighting chard in my last post (though of course, I may not feel so bad once I get the email telling me what's in this week's CSA share).  I'd just rather eat spinach, in most cases.  This soup is an exception, though; something about the slight bitterness of the chard really complements the sweet of the lightly caramelized onion and the broth.  I suspect that cooking it first helps, too.

And of course it's full of protein and all sorts of things that are good for you, no matter what shape you're in right now.  And since doctors don't often make house calls these days, you have to take good care of yourself.

Lentil-Chard Soup

1 c. brown lentils, rinsed
4 c. water
4 c. stock or low-sodium broth
3 T. olive oil, plus more for serving (optional)
1 large onion, finely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
1 bunch green Swiss chard (1 1/4 pounds), ribs removed and reserved for another use, leaves coarsely chopped
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils with the water, stock and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the lentils are barely tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, crushed pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the chard leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Add the chard to the lentils, cover partially, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, season with pepper and olive oil and serve.
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  1. The soup looks so yummy and cozy. Still too hot here for it, but maybe in a few months. I just can't do hot soup in warm weather, it feels wrong. :)

  2. Hang in there, you've come a long way already and bebe girls are resilient.

  3. Your doctor sounds like a caring-hands-on and slightly strange but I take his behaviour to mean he cares. I like old-fashioned doctors, my miracle doctor is also like this and I love her for it.

    Four months will go by quickly even if it does not seem like it now. I remember feeling the anxiety creeping in and felt that 37 couldn't come quick enough.. well let me tell you that time does fly by when you are having fun. Keep holding on to positive thoughts.. I am sending you some as I feel you could use them!

  4. It's weird but WONDERFUL to have an endocrinologist that behaves like yours. :-) Chard I had to look up; here we call it silverbeet. I love it with lentils in soup, but also use it a lot in middle eastern cooking. The stems even make a nice dip; cook until quite soft and then blend with tahini and flavour as you like - lemon, garlic, maybe some olive oil and/or a dash of cumin. Slightly lighter/fresher than most hommus or tahini dips. The greens are great in tajines or baked as fillings in breads. Or just sauted with leeks and garlic. You got me at a hungry moment, so sorry most of this comment is me cooking in my brain!

  5. Thanks, all, for the positive thoughts.

    TasIVFer, I'd never heard of chard with tahini! What a fabulous idea. (Silverbeet, interesting ... it's supposed to be a cousin of beetroot anyway, I think.) And in bread! I just made another soup (forthcoming post) but next week I will be better armed with solutions if the chard reappears! Thanks!


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