A traditional Greek bean soup recipe, fasolatha.
Some months ago, we posted a fasolatha recipe and some people questioned, “Where’s the tomato?”. At the time, we explained that there are in fact, two broad categories of this traditional Greek bean soup; the one we originally posted, which has no tomato and has a light broth (λευκή), and this version, with a rich tomato base. Both are delicious, nutritious and incredibly easy to put together.
Fasolatha is a great menu option for days when you want a vegan meal and, given that the Nativity Fast is coming up, it can be a perfect option on days when olive oil is permitted. If you are not fasting, or are not even consciously deciding to forego meat on a given day, this is still a great soup to serve your family, and even guests. As with most bean based dishes, it is economical, hearty and particularly warming during cooler weather. Serve it with a loaf of rustic country bread, some olives, a lovely salad, and you have a perfect dinner.
The white kidney beans used in this recipe should be soaked before they are cooked. Technically, we think that you can cook with un-soaked beans, but the cooking time will be much, much longer, and the beans may be more difficult to digest. Our parents usually soak their beans overnight, but we have sometimes soaked our beans for much longer (because soup-making plans sometimes get interrupted by other things…like life). In any case, if your beans end up soaking longer than 12 hours or so, keep them in the refrigerator. In a pinch, we guess you can use canned kidney beans, but if you can pre-plan and used dried, we strongly suggest it.
The tomato sauce that our parents use in this soup recipe is the one which they make themselves, and whose recipe we have posted here. If you’ve made our parents tomato sauce, great! If you haven’t, and don’t plan to, don’t let that stop you from making this soup. Simply use any good quality tomato passata, or tomato sauce that you can find.
Fasolatha is a great soup to freeze, so don’t be shy about doubling this recipe, so long as you have a pot large enough to cook all of your ingredients. If you do happen to make more than you need, simply store it in freezer safe containers, and thaw the morning that you may want to serve this for supper. Keep in mind that you may need to add more water as you re-heat your soup on the stovetop.
Mia Kouppa: Fasolatha with tomato
- 2 cups (500 ml) dry white kidney beans
- 1 medium onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1 cup (250 ml) tomato passata or tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) pepper
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) salt
- Rinse the beans and soak them in cool water for 12-24 hours, changing the water at least once.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kidney beans and cook them, over medium heat, for approximately 30 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.
- Chop the onion, carrot and celery into chunks which are about the size of the soaked kidney beans. It is not an exact science, so don’t worry about it too much.
- In a large pot, saute the vegetables in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes over medium high heat, stirring regularly. Be careful that the vegetables do not burn.
- To the pot add the drained kidney beans, 7 cups of water, tomato sauce and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Once you have reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cover partially (do not fully cover the pot with its lid so that you let a bit of steam escape). Cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking your soup to be sure that it does not require more water. If it does require more water, simply add more, 1/2 cup at a time.
- After 60 minutes test your beans for doneness. They should be soft and creamy. If they are not, allow to cook for a while longer until you get to this point. Enjoy.