Fasoulada - Theodora’s Greek Bean Soup
As far as Greek dishes go, Fasoulada, may be one of the most underrated dishes amongst tourists coming to Greece. Most Greeks when asked the question of which dish represents the country most, would more than likely give the title of Fasoulada as the National Dish of Greece. This most ancient Greek soup dates back to the time of antiquity where the Ancient Greeks would spend a whole day to celebrating the mighty Fasoulada! This dish must have saved Greece during World War II as it became the staple diet during the war. I joke with people in saying that the Germans did not like beans or else they would have stolen them as they did most other foodstuff.
Fasolada is primarily made with dried navy or white haricot beans. Its nutritional attributes cannot be overlooked as it contains protein, iron, fibre, magnesium and potassium. Other ingredients include carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste and olive oil. The soup adheres to the Mediterranean diet with its legumes and vegetables, rich in antioxidants.
Looking on-line at other people’s contributions to the Greek Bean Soup (Fasoulada), I noticed that many dishes do not resemble the way most Greeks would cook it. Many added more vegetables than normal or more tomatoes since the Fasoulada looked too red in color. I’m quite sure that these dishes tasted just fine and I’m not saying the Fasoulada in these other recipes is wrong (though, I would say the recipes are more a Greek-Style Fasoulada) where as this version here is a more traditional version or should I say Theadora’s Fasoulada. Notice that there is no garlic in this version. Theodora says that garlic is added only to Fakes (Greek Lentil Soup). I also like to add a few drops of Tabasco just before I eat it as I like it a bit spicy!
- 1 1/2 cups white beans (may also use navy beans or white haricot beans)
- 6 cups water
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced finely
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalks celery, strings removed, and sliced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste (Again, my mother does not use tomatoes in a can or fresh as they may make the soup bitter and the beans hard.)
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- 1 vegetable stock
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the beans in water overnight; strain the water, rinse beans and place them in a pot with new water. (I think the soup tastes much better with fresh beans rather than canned beans).
- Bring to boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
- Drain beans in a strainer and return to pot. Add 6 cups water. (This is done to make the soup light on the stomach).
- Bring to boil for 15 minutes.
- Add carrots, onion, celery and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer for 1 hour or less until beans are soft and tender. (The time is arbitrary as beans tend to vary according to water softness and even altitude). Add more water if needed.
- Towards the end, add vegetable stock, tomato paste, olive oil, mild paprika and pepper to taste.
- Add salt last if needed as the vegetable stock may have enough. (Do not add salt or tomatoes until the beans are cooked or they will go hard if you do).
- Serve with hearty crusted bread, Kalamata olives, spring onions, and white Taramosalata.