Is anyone else finding that they’re spending a lot of time these days EATING?
I feel like we never stop over here!
So it seems only appropriate to share a recipe or two with you during this period. Healthy ones of course! Traditional Greek dishes made with simple, affordable ingredients that can be found on every table in Greece, and should be on yours too.
Fasolatha (fah-so-LA-the) is a hearty, vegetarian bean and tomato soup that dates back to ancient Greek times. It’s primarily a winter staple but even now as the sun starts to shine and spring flowers start to bloom, we still all look forward to a big, warm pot of this for lunch, complete with all the yummy extras on the side.
Here’s what you’ll need:
500g dry white beans (navy or cannellini beans)
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2-3 large sweet, ripe tomatoes (or 1 can of chopped tomatoes)
2 teaspoons of concentrated tomato paste
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
about 1 1/2 – 2L vegetable broth
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
- if you’re using dried beans you’ll need to soak them in water from the night before. Use quite a lot of water because they’ll expand as they soak and you want them to stay covered in water until you’re ready to boil them. You can also use canned beans to save on time!
- Rinse the beans and boil them until slightly tender. This takes about an hour but it depends on how long the beans have been stored so keep checking them. DO NOT add salt when cooking dried beans. This will keep the beans from getting to that melt in your mouth, soft, texture that you want.
- As the beans boil, a white foam will collect on the top of the water. Scrape this off and get rid of it. If you leave it the beans will taste slightly bitter and your soup will be ruined! (ok it won’t be ruined but it won’t be as delicious as it could be)
- sauté the vegetables in olive oil until slightly tender
- add tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar
- add the beans with a little bit of the water they were boiled in to thicken
- add vegetable broth
- simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until ingredients
- add salt and pepper to taste and another bit of olive oil too because, why not?
Serve with thickly cut fresh, crusty bread, olives, feta cheese, salty fish (it’s a Greek thing, small fish such as anchovies, white bait or sardines, or slices of larger fish like tuna are cleaned and stored in salt for days. The end result is a cured fish that has a very delicate texture and powerful salty taste that I find absolutely delicious in small doses) but if you don’t have salty fish don’t worry, salami or other cured meats are a nice accompaniment as well. Or you could just stick with the cheese and olives and it’s just as satisfying.
Fasolatha is the Greek version of this soup but if you’re a traveller, or like to try out dishes from around the world at home, you’ll find a version of soup from just about every corner of the world. Add chorizo to this and it’s Spanish. Leave out the tomato, add kale and Italian spices and you have Tuscan bean soup. Add garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika and cayenne pepper and you have Moroccan bean stew.
Καλη Όρεξη! (Kaly Orexi) – Bon Appetite!