To say that our neighborhood was inhabited by organic militants would not be misrepresenting history. You may feel that it’s harsh of me to call my neighbors organic militants. But have you ever had anyone stand in your very own kitchen in your very own house and criticize you in front of children for serving said children Kool Aid containing Red Dye #5? I’m still smarting. So forgive my snarkiness, but really….
Back to chard. One week I picked up our box of organic produce from our podmaster’s house and saw that instead of the lettuce I ordered, a bunch of Swiss chard had been delivered. I am not a greens person like my grandparents who grew their own kale and drowned it in vinegar. But over the years I have grown fond of raw spinach and am absolutely in love with Utica greens as prepared by the wondrous North Syracuse restaurant Nesticos.
Seeing as how I couldn’t return the unwanted chard and had no idea what to do with it, and because I hate to waste food (child of people who lived through The Great Depression), I went online in search of chard recipes. This was back when Yahoo was Altavista and our computer had dial up, so it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I found a lovely recipe for chard soup which I think is quite tasty.
Chard is a mellow green, not like its bitter cousins arugula and mustard greens, that easily melds with other flavors like onion and garlic. It comes in different varieties, Swiss and rainbow to name just two. And as a bonus, this soup recipe includes sound effects. You begin the process by heating mustard seeds in olive oil and as they warm up, they pop around the bottom of the pot like Mexican jumping beans only much smaller. So here is my chard soup recipe, ripped from the phone lines of slow internet connections.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, sliced (you can leave the skin on if you like)
- 1 bunch chard, shredded and stems removed
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- salt & pepper
- optional: sour cream or yogurt, chives
Heat oil and mustard seed until seeds begin to pop. Sauté garlic and onion in oil until softened. Add celery, potatoes and chard. Add stock, boil and cook uncovered until potatoes are very tender, about 25 or 30 minutes. Mash potatoes in the pot until coarsely broken up. Add vinegar and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes to concentrate flavors. Salt and pepper to taste. You may serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt topped with a sprinkle of chives.
By the way, chard is a “super food,” as they’re called. You can count all the vitamins here.