2 pounds Swiss chard (2 generous bunches)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely diced
Salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts soup stock of choice
Bouquet garni with bay leaf, parsley and thyme
½ cup basmati rice
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving (optional)
rim the bottoms of the chard stems. If the stems are thin and fibrous, separate the leaves and discard the stems. If they are wide, separate the leaves and cut the stems into ¼-inch dice. Set aside with the celery and onion. Wash the leaves in 2 changes of water and chop medium-fine.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot and add the onion, celery and chard stalks. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes, and add a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock or water, bouquet garni and rice. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir the chard into the soup, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Add freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust the salt. Serve with fresh lemon wedges for people to squeeze into their servings if desired and Parmesan for sprinkling.