Template for a Classic Greek Bean Soup


Fasolada, the classic Greek bean soup, comes in many regional variations. In Western Crete, for example, a few strips of orange zest are sometimes added to the soup as it simmers. In the north of Greece, where the palate is spicier, fasolada is often seasoned with boukovo (hot pepper flakes), or a couple of hot chile peppers. Mint and hot pepper flakes together are another uniquely Northern Greek addition to the soup.

Greeks whose roots are in the Black Sea region add something called korkota, beautiful amber crystals of dried corn. A cup or two of browned, chopped sausage meat makes the soup heartier. Another option, and one I exercise quite a bit, is to run an immersion blender in the soup for a few seconds, pureeing just a bit of it in order to give the soup a creamy, dense texture. The choices are yours to make! Add a generous amount of additional olive oil when served, and accompany the bean soup with a side of feta and/or salted sardines.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound/450 g medium-sized white dried beans such as cannellini
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil divided
  • 3 large red onions peeled and finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 3 celery stalks or 1 ½ cups chopped wild celery with leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chopped canned plum tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 1- inch 2.5-cm strips orange zest
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 long dried chile peppers, whole
  • 6 to 8 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Choice of Additions:

  • 1 chop diced browned sausage meat
  • ½ cup dried corn
  • ½ to 1 cup small pasta such as Greek kouskousaki or little stars

Accompaniments:

  • 6 to 8 salted sardines as an accompaniment
  • 4 to 6 ounces Greek feta as an accompaniment

Instructions

  1. Soak the beans overnight. The next day, rinse and drain them.
  2. Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a large pot over low heat and cook the onions, carrots and celery together until softened, about 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the beans and toss to coat in the oil. Pour in the tomatoes, orange zest, bay leaves and water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the beans simmer, skimming the top, for about two hours, or until the soup is thick and creamy and the beans and vegetables very soft.
  3. (If desired, about half way through cooking the bean soup, add either the dried corn or pasta.)
  4. About 10 minutes before removing from heat, season with salt and pepper.
  5. If desired, using an immersion blender, puree a little bit of the soup (about 2 cups out of the entire pot), to make thicker and creamier. Add the balsamic, and stir in the parsley.
  6. As soon as you remove the fasolada from the heat, pour in the remaining olive oil.
  7. Serve hot, with a couple of sardines and a little feta sprinkled in each plate or on the side.

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