I don’t repeat recipes very often – there are too many new and interesting recipes out there to try! – so the fact that we have had this many times should tell you something. It’s a delicious soup for a cold winter night, hearty and healthy and very satisfying. It’s definitely one of our favorite soups. It’s extremely flavorful and interesting and different from any other chicken noodle soup I’ve ever tasted, unique and impressive enough for company but still simple to prepare.
Swiss chard is so, so good for you and it’s delicious too – it’s a mild leafy green similar in taste and texture to spinach. It’s packed full of iron, vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium and potassium, and fiber. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamin B6. This is one healthy soup!! And trust me, you’ll enjoy this soup so much you won’t even notice how good it is for you.
Another reason I love this soup: it’s cheap eats. I always keep canned beans, chicken broth, and egg noodles in our pantry (I’m a big fan of having a well-stocked pantry), and a bunch of Swiss chard will go for about $3, so it’s not an expensive dish to make. You don’t have to pay a lot to eat well. And you don’t have to eat a lot of processed foods to eat cheaply.
I accidentally used beet greens in this soup this last time, and I didn’t even realize it until I went into the fridge for my bunch of beet greens and found a bunch of Swiss chard instead. So feel free to substitute with beet greens or even spinach, if you like. Beet greens will turn your noodles pink after sitting in the fridge overnight, though! My other change to this recipe is that I add about a cup of cooked chicken at the end. I’ll use leftover chicken breast meat, or shredded rotisserie chicken meat, or this last time I roasted two chicken thighs on the bone in the oven with just salt and pepper and cut up the meat. It’s not necessary, but James enjoys the extra meatiness.
You could also easily make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken meat and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Tunisian Soup with Swiss Chard and Egg Noodles
Adapted, just barely, from Batter Splattered
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I use 1 teaspoon ground cumin)
1 bunch Swiss chard or beet greens, stems and center ribs chopped and leaves coarsely chopped (reserve separately)
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa or other hot sauce,to taste (I use 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce for a nice kick without being too spicy)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (19-ounces) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
4 ounce fine egg noodles (about 1 1/2 cups)
Accompaniment: lemon wedges
About 1 cup shredded chicken breast meat, optional
If using seeds rather than powder: toast cumin seeds in a dry small heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat, stirring, until deeply fragrant and dark brown (be careful not to burn). Cool, then grind to a powder in grinder.
Cook chard stems, onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, harissa (or Tabasco sauce), and lemon juice and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
Add chard leaves, chickpeas, chicken (if using), and noodles with 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, until tender, about 7 minutes.
Serve soup sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper and remaining cumin.