Greek Bean Soup (Fassolada)

Ever notice how simple foods can be extraordinarily good? Think of the way a margherita pizza makes you feel. Fresh and bursting with flavor—it delights us in its simplicity.

Now if I’d said Greek Bean Soup  instead of margherita pizza, you likely would have stared at your screen saying “okay, whatever Barb” because chances are it’s not a soup that’s on your radar. But…that may change, if you open your mind to this simple and tasty soup.

I’ve been making this soup quite frequently ever since I discovered it in my Three Sisters Around the Greek Table cookbook. The ponytails love it and it is easy to make—it just takes some time to cook, and you need plan ahead and soak the beans overnight. It is a very healthy vegetarian meal and boy is it budget friendly.

This bean soup, also called Fassolada or fasolada, can be traced back to ancient Greece and is referred to in many cookery books as the traditional Greek dish. Apparently ancient Greeks devoted a whole day to the celebration of fassolada. (As much as I do like the soup, a day devoted to it is way over the top. But hey, after several glasses of ouzo anything is possible.) For many Greek cooks, such as my friend Kerassia (my authority on all things Greek, whom I’ve mentioned before), fassolada is a weekly staple in their kitchen.

There are likely as many versions of this soup, as there are cooks. I’ve changed the soup extensively from the Three Sisters’ version — but I must attribute adding the potato and pureeing it with a cup of the soup to this cookbook.

Greek Bean Soup

  • 1-½  cups navy beans, dried (or medium white greek beans)
  • 6-½ cups water
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small potato, peeled
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1-½ cups crushed tomato sauce
  • 1- ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano (preferably greek)

Optional Garnishes

  • chopped fresh parsley
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • lemon wedges

Directions  

  1. Place the beans in a bowl, cover completely with water, and let them soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. Place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain beans in a strainer and return to pot. Add water, carrots, celery, onion, red pepper flakes, potato and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaf and add tomato sauce, salt and olive oil and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour (until beans are tender).
  5. Place potato and 1 cup of soup in a bowl and puree with hand blender until smooth. Return puree to the pot and stir.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.
  7. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with feta, parsley and a squeeze of lemon (optional).

 TIPS/NOTES

  • After talking to Kerassia, and researching the best way to cook beans, I discovered that the key to softening the beans is to not add tomato (because of the acidity) or salt until they are almost cooked.
  • I replace the navy beans with medium white greek beans that I buy at a local shop here in Toronto called Ararat International Fine Foods. They are quite a bit larger than navy beans and a great option if you can find them.
  • Kerassia doesn’t add the potato (and puree it with the cup of soup). You can eliminate the potato and this step if you prefer.
Advertisements

34 Comments on “Greek Bean Soup (Fassolada)”

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    This sounds like a very tasty soup though I would probably also leave out the potato. 🙂 As for beans, I switch among navy, great northern and cannellini beans in my pantry.

  2. Oh my god… I’m like scrunching up here with tingly feelings about the name of this dish! We call a green runner bean stew dish we have ‘faasooleeyah’ (maybe fassoleeya to look relevant?) 😀 I think we have a different name for cannellini beans… 🙂 Something with the word “ful” pronounced ‘fool’… This recipe looks great, it’s similar to the ‘fool’ recipe I’m talking about!

  3. Kristy says:

    I have a bag of navy beans that do not yet have a home…I’m encouraged that the ponytails like this and wonder if my little foodies would too. 🙂

    • I hope your little foodies do too! Sometimes my girls surprize me with what they like, and this has been a happy surprize…because I wasn’t sure the first time I made it. I just have to watch it because I’ve made this so much (trying to refine the recipe) that they may get sick of it!

  4. This sounds great Barb, I’m doing all vegetarian this week, so I’ll probably make this soup. I will omit the potato; I do love the creaminess of navy beans, so I’m sticking to that. The tip about adding the tomatoes later is great.

    • Let me know if you do Eva. I really like the potato, but it is definitely a personal choice. The beans on their own would be great too — I’ve had it that way and like it because Kerassia gives me containers of her soup quite often and she doesn’t do the potato version. I love that it is such a healthy soup…I reduced the olive oil to lighten it (it originally called for 1/4 cup) because I don’t notice a difference in the end-produce using less.

  5. What a fresh looking soup.. I’d love these flavours! Hey, my name is Barb too:)

    • Thanks Barb. It is nice to meet another Barb, as it is not a common name these days!

      I have to say this soup is a great flavour combination and you feel healthy eating it!

      PS — I’m enjoying your blog and I’ve been reviewing your book list trying to pick out my next read!

  6. Norma Chang says:

    A simple, delicious and good for you soup. Bet it freezes well too.

  7. Charles says:

    To be honest, I’d take this over the pizza 😀 I’ve never been a big fan of plain margherita pizzas – I’d much rather tuck into a delicious soup. I love all beans – although I’m not familiar with “navy” beans… perhaps we call them something else in Europe… will have to check. I love your garnish too… I’ve got a bit of a thing for feta cheese 😀

  8. hotlyspiced says:

    What a great mid-week meal. This looks like something my whole family would enjoy and it looks like it wouldn’t just be tasty but good for us too xx

  9. Sissi says:

    I totally agree about Margarita. It’s also the best way to check the skills of the pizzaiolo and the quality of the restaurant. Margarita can be extraordinary.
    Fassolada looks delicious, but just like you say, I cannot imagine a whole day devoted to any soup, even such an appetising one (although there are some dishes I can devote my whole day to…). I’m very happy to learn once more about the Greek cuisine I don’t really know (the only Greek thing I make is a -vaguely – Greek salad 😉 Thank you for making us discover another great Greek dish!

    • My pleasure Sissi. I had my friend from Puerto Rico for dinner on the weekend and she helped me make a spanish rice dish that I’ll post about in a couple weeks. I need to do some reseach about some of the ingredients in her sofrito that would not be widely available! I enjoy learning about the culture of my friends through their recipes — it is a great way to connect on another level. Now I just need to find out what navy beans are called in Europe for Charles!

  10. Sissi says:

    I meant Margherita of course, sorry for the awful spelling.

  11. Karen says:

    I love bean soups and yours sounds delicious. I like the tomatoes in it especially.

  12. Kiran says:

    Yummy and comforting soup! I should try cooking more with navy beans 🙂

  13. Eva Taylor says:

    We made the soup on Thursday for dinner, very tasty indeed! We added chick peas instead of potatoes; this will become a staple! Thanks.

  14. This looks terrific! A beautiful soup with all the Greek flavors I love. And I like the chickpea idea, too!

  15. […] 31, 2012 by Eva Taylor My friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytials made this recipe a few days ago, and I knew I had to have it. Barb and I have been friends a really long time, and I […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s