Fasolada: The “National Food of Greece”
Fasolada is a fundamental staple of the Greek diet, particularly during the Lenten fasting period before Easter.
And what more could you want from a meal? Fasolada is incredibly nutritious; its ingredients are inexpensive and always on hand; is vegan (without a side of cheese); includes key ingredients of the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, beans and olive oil); is easy to make; and keeps in the fridge for up to 2 days – or you can even freeze it.
Do not use canned beans in this recipe – start with dry beans that have been soaked overnight. To round out your meal, serve Fasolada with fresh bread, black olives (preferably kalamata) and Feta cheese on the side.
Greek White Bean Soup (Fasolada)
- 1/2 pound dry white kidney or navy beans soaked overnight and drained
- 3 cups (approx) water
- 1 large onion, any kind grated
- 2 medium carrots sliced into thin rounds
- 1 medium rib celery, including leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the beans in a 3-quart saucepan with enough cold tap water to cover. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil, skimming off any froth that comes to the surface. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Pour the cooked beans in a large colander over the sink and rinse with cool tap water; put them back into the saucepan.
Add enough water to cover the beans plus another 2 inches above the surface of the beans. Add the onion, carrots, celery, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. The soup should be thick and the beans very tender but not falling apart. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.
VARIATION: For a spicier soup, add ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, according to taste) to the saucepan along with the onion in Step 2.