2½ cups red lentils
2½ quarts cold water
2 medium red onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch chard
3 cups cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cilantro seeds (coriander)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter
grated zest of 1 lemon
sourdough bread (optional)
4 lemons cut into wedges
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Wash the lentils in plenty of cold water. Place them in a large saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes, until soft. Skim off any scum as it rises to the surface during cooking.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove about ½ of the lentils from the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt to the lentils in the pan and process with an immersion blender (or in a food processor). Return the reserved lentils to the soup.
3. Peel the red onions, halve them and slice them. Place a frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent. Meanwhile remove and discard any large stems from the chard. Wash and rinse the leaves thoroughly, then chop them coarsely. Do the same with the cilantro, leaving a few whole leaves for garnish later.
4. Mix the cooked onions, chard leaves, and chopped cilantro into the lentil soup and season with the cumin, cinnamon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup and simmer gently for 5 minutes more.
5. With a mortar and pestle, or using the flat side of the knife, crush the cilantro seed and garlic together. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and cilantro seeds, and fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to color slightly. Stir this into the soup, remove soup from the stove, and cover with a lid. Leave the soup to rest for 45 minutes before serving.
6. Serve garnished with lemon zest and cilantro leaves and pass around some bread and lemon wedges. Make sure everybody squeezes some lemon into their soup.