Fakes is a traditional Greek lentil soup that is super easy to prepare and requires only a few ingredients. It is usually made with green or brown lentils, and has a few simple ingredients added to it. The broth is tomato based. This wonderful, classic Greek soup is best served with a side of olives, some fresh country bread and a glass of red wine.
Why this recipe works
Fakes (pronounced F*@% – yes…seriously) is the Greek term for lentil soup. It is a meal which is filling, nutritious and very easy to prepare. It is perhaps also a welcome change from the more complicated and time consuming moussaka and yemista recipes we’ve recently
impressed you with posted. I totally understand that sometimes you just need a quick, simple, go-to recipe in order to get the kids off to hockey, the laundry off the floor, or to make a dent in the television show you’ve been planning on binge watching.
It also a great idea to have in your apron pocket a few recipes which can easily, and inexpensively, feed a crowd. Fakes is certainly that kind of recipe. I love to entertain often but that does not mean that I am always in the mood to set up elaborate (and costly) affairs. Often times I just want to hang out with family and friends and offer them some good food so that no one gets grumpy. I love to do this without spending a fortune or the entire day in the kitchen. With fakes (lentil soup) all you have to do is add some bread, an assortment of olives, some feta cheese, a nice bottle of wine, and you are good to go.
If you want to see more amazing Greek soup recipes, be sure to check out this round-up of the best Greek soup recipes for fall, or anytime!
Lentils – Traditionally green or brown lentils are used to make Greek lentil soup. These lentils hold their shape when cooked and provide a rich, earthy and delicious base to the soup.
Olive oil – The veggies are lightly sautéed in a generous amount of olive oil before adding the liquid to the soup pot. Think of the olive oil as an actual ingredient, and not merely a way to sautée the carrots and onions.
Mirepoix – A mirepoix is a mixture of onion, carrots and celery that is used as the basis for many recipes. It is a term used primarily in French cooking, but it well describes the base vegetable ingredients used in this fakes recipe.
Garlic – I like to add my garlic in thin slices. These larger pieces help prevent the garlic from burning. Still, keep an eye on it. Burnt garlic has a bitter taste and can ruin an entire pot of soup.
Tomato puree – I add tomato puree or passata to my fakes. It adds such an incredible depth of flavour and colour to the soup. I usually use the homemade tomato sauce that we make as a family, but in a pinch I will purchase a good quality tomato puree or passata.
Add rice or potato – I have listed both potato and rice as optional ingredients in the basic fakes recipe. If you want a heartier soup, consider adding one of these.
How to make
Making fakes is really quite simple and the more often you make it, the easier it will seem to you!
I am including all of the steps that I have been taught to do by my parents. They believe that soaking, and pre-boiling the lentils helps in their digestion. I have included these steps in the recipe, but feel free to omit them if you do not believe this to be a concern for you.
- Pick over the lentils and remove any shrivelled pieces and small stones.
- Cover the lentils with warm water for 3 – 4 hours. Change water every hour or so. Drain. (optional)
- Prepare your vegetables by finely dicing onion, carrot and celery and thinly slicing the garlic. If you will be adding potato, grate it.
Add lentils to a pot and cover with an inch of water. Bring water and lentils to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes and then drain lentils and discard the water they were boiled in. Rinse lentils.
In a large pot (you can use the same pot you just boiled the lentils in – but dry it first) combine the olive oil and chopped onion. Cook onion over medium heat until soft, approximately 5 minutes.
Add carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves to pot with onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning.
Add the lentils, water (6 cups or enough to cover the lentils by 1 inch), tomato sauce, and the grated potato(or rice if you are using either).
Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper 15 minutes into the cooking process. Total cooking times may vary depending upon the age of the lentils, and whether or not you soaked them, and for how long. Your fakes are done when they are soft to the bite. For those who want, you can add a splash (1 teaspoon or so) of red wine vinegar to each individual portion
Frequently asked questions
What variety of lentils should be used for fakes (lentil soup)?
Lentils are not beans, they are pulses, which are a category of legume. Within the lentil family there are several varieties. Greek fakes call for brown (or sometimes green) lentils, which hold their shape well during the cooking process. We have also experimented with the more expensive Puy lentils. These are grown in the French region of Le Puy, and gave our fakes an extra European flair. Fancy, but not traditional, and certainly not necessary. You should not use yellow or red split lentils in this recipe. They will not retain their shape during cooking and their taste is significantly different from what you would expect for this soup. Save those lentils for recipes like our red lentil soup or our red lentil and bulgur wraps.
Do lentils need to be pre-soaked before cooking?
Our parents soak their lentils for 3 – 4 hours prior to cooking them and they change the water every hour or so (this is the method used in the recipe which follows). After soaking, they also pre-boil their fakes, believing that this makes them easier to digest. Who are we to argue?
Still, it should be noted that soaking and pre-boiling are not essential when cooking with lentils and most recipes which use lentils will not suggest that you take these steps. At the same time, soaking and pre-boiling will cut the cooking time almost by half. You can soak your lentils for longer than 3 – 4 hours if that is more convenient, without changing the water at all during the soaking process. We often soak our lentils before leaving for work in the morning and then prepare them that evening for dinner. We have also soaked them for 3 – 4 hours on one evening, drained them, and kept them in the refrigerator until the next evening when they are cooked. The soaking options are endless.
It is important to sort through your lentils.
Prior to soaking (or cooking) the lentils you will need to pick through them in order to remove any rocks or shrivelled up pieces. This is a fun job for little hands so if you have any kids around, get them to help.
How to purchase lentils
Make sure to buy your lentils at a grocery store or market where pulses and beans are popular. If you find your bag of lentils covered in dust and high up on some shelf, then pass. They will not be “bad” but they may be old, making them difficult to cook. Please (pretty please) avoid using canned lentils. The taste and texture are truly not the same.
Adjust the consistency of your soup
The recipe which follows makes a relatively thick soup. If you prefer your fakes more liquidy, simply play with the quantity of water added during the cooking process. Start with the amount of liquid recommended in the recipe, and adjust according to your preference after the soup has been cooking for at least 15 minutes.
Add a splash of vinegar
Many people like to add an acidic element to their fakes upon serving. Our favourite way to eat them is with some red wine vinegar mixed in. Other options include fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
If you love fakes then I think you will also enjoy these simple soup recipes that are made with beans and pulses.
Psilofasola or Mung bean soup
This is a very simple soup made with mung beans and flavoured with lemon juice. Simple and delicious.
Chickpea soup (Ρεβιθόσουπα)
I often use canned chickpeas to make this recipe. It is simple, nutritious and absolutely delicious.
Red lentil soup (Κόκκινες φακές σούπα)
So creamy you would never guess that there is no cream here! Just a mix of pureed red lentils and vegetables to make an incredible soup.
Storing and reheating
This is a great recipe to double or triple! When I decide to make fakes I usually make more than I need because I can store it for another day.
In the refrigerator
Your fakes will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
Freeze your fakes for another day!
Cooked fakes freeze well so if you have leftovers, portion them out and tuck them away in the freezer. Perfect for those times when cooking is the last thing you want to do.
Reheat your fakes in the microwave, or on the stovetop. This should only take a few minutes either way. If your fakes were frozen, defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. You can also microwave them from frozen using the Defrost setting on your microwave.
This recipe makes 4 servings of soup. You can get more servings out of the recipe if it is to be served as the first course to another main meal.
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Fakes (Greek lentil soup recipe)
- sauce pot
- 2 cups (16 oz) dry green lentils
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium size carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, cut into small chunks
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 6 cups water approximately
- 1 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 1 medium potato, peeled and grated optional (see notes below)
- 1/4 cup medium grain rice optional (see notes below)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- splash red wine vinegar optional
- Pick over the lentils and remove any shrivelled pieces and small stones.2 cups (16 oz) dry green lentils
- Cover the lentils with warm water for 3 – 4 hours. Change water every hour or so. Drain.
- Add lentils to a pot and cover with an inch of water. Bring water and lentils to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes and then drain lentils and discard the water they were boiled in. Rinse lentils.
- While the lentils are boiling, prepare your vegetables by finely dicing onion, carrot and celery, thinly slicing the garlic and grating your potato if you're adding it.1 1/2 medium onion, chopped, 1 medium size carrot, diced, 1 celery stalk, cut into small chunks, 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, 1 medium potato, peeled and grated
- In a large pot (you can use the same pot you just boiled the lentils in – but dry it first) combine the olive oil and chopped onion. Cook onion over medium heat until soft, approximately 5 minutes.1/3 cup olive oil
- Add carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves to pot with onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning.3-4 bay leaves
- Add the lentils, water (6 cups or enough to cover the lentils by 1 inch), tomato sauce, and the grated potato(or rice if you are using either).6 cups water, 1 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper 15 minutes into the cooking process. Total cooking times may vary depending upon the age of the lentils, and whether or not you soaked them, and for how long. Your fakes are done when they are soft to the bite. For those who want, you can add a splash (1 teaspoon or so) of red wine vinegar to each individual portion1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 tsp salt