Spring in the Midwest is a fickle beast. At one moment the weather is warm and soft drawing you outside with enthusiasm. Things can even heat up with 90 degree temperatures causing you to unearth your flip flops and clean off the grill. Then the next day Spring will turn a cold shoulder with biting wind and temperatures that come dangerously close to allowing the rain to freeze on your windshield. This yo-yo behavior can make meal planning a real challenge. Soup either sounds like a crazy idea when the air conditioning threatens to kick on or like a brilliant idea when you are reaching for another sweater.

Luckily this Swiss chard and lemon soup tastes so strongly of Spring- bright cheerful notes of lemon and clean grassy bites of chard- that you will welcome it hot or cold. Tender Swiss chard and salty preserved lemons really sing in a light vegetable broth. Studded with al dente macaroni (use quinoa pasta if you are looking for extra protein or avoiding gluten) and plump golden raisins, a bowl of this soup is dangerously close to addictive for a lemon lover like me. A drizzle of high quality olive oil tops off the soup with a final note of grassy buttery richness.

Requiring a minimal amount of prep time, the soup is a quick fix coming together in an hour with only a few intervals of stirring. Now that our farmer’s market is open for the year (hooray!) I have made this soup every week with a bag of tender Spring greens. Served hot for dinner or eaten cold for a quick lunch the lemony broth has entranced my taste buds. It is the kind of soup you can eat while wearing flip flops, a sweater- or both at the same time!

Swiss Chard and Lemon Soup Print Recipe

Recipe Thumbnail

Adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hours

Serves 4-6


  • 3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large Yellow Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 bunches Young Swiss Chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
  • 1/3 cup Golden Raisins
  • 1/2 Preserved Lemon, Rind only, rinsed and minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 5 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup Elbow Macoroni, cooked
  • Really good Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Cooking Directions

Place a large pot over medium heat, add the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring now and then, until the onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Next add in the Swiss chard stems, golden raisins, and lemon rind. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the Swiss chard stems are soft.
Place the Swiss chard leaves into the pot and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the leaves are wilted. Pour the vegetable broth into the pot, cover again, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Stir in the pasta and serve. Drizzle a bit of the really good extra-virgin olive oil on top of each bowl before eating.

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