Fasolada: Traditional Greek Bean Soup

 Very nutritious, and full of protein, fibre, and iron, fasolada, the Greek bean soup, is considered by many as the national food of the Greeks. You may be surprised because Greek cuisine is popular for its moussaka, souvlaki, and tzatziki. However, it is the “poor” fasolada soup that nourished generations and generations of Greeks and is present on every family table at least once a week. It may be related to the Ancient Greek dish of broad beans, vegetables, and grains, with no meat, which was used as food and sacrifice to the Greek God Apollo during the Pyanopsia festival.

According to the myth, this tradition was established by Theseus when he set out for Crete to kill the Minotaur. On the way to Crete, he stopped at Delos and while he sacrificed to Apollo, he promised him that if he won the battle with the Minotaur, he would offer him decorated olive branches to thank him. When he returned to Athens, Theseus fulfilled his promise with this tradition. On his return, the food on the boat was consumed. So, on the seventh day, Theseus's companions gathered what they could find and cooked them into a bean soup.

Actually, Pyanopsia means the “day of the bean soup”. Athenians were making fasolada and they were offering a plate to the god Apollo, the Sun, Athena, and the Hours.

This traditional fasolada recipe requires the following recipe: white beans, carrots, onion, celery, Greek olive oil, tomato puree, parsley, salt, and pepper.

An important tip when making a fasolada soup: Look for freshly dried beans that are white, with a smooth shiny skin outside. Soak them overnight, in a bowl with plenty of water and salt. And of course, discard that water prior to cooking.

This fasolada recipe takes 10 minutes to prepare, plus soaking overnight, and around 60 minutes to cook. Ideal if you are a vegan, it serves 4 persons.

fasolada (Greek Bean Soup)

Fasolada – Ingredients

  • 400g dry white beans
  •  3 medium carrots, sliced
  •  1 large onion, finely chopped
  •  3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  •  50ml olive oil
  •  2 tbsp. tomato puree
  •  salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  fresh parsley for serving

Fasolada – How to Make

  1. Boil the beans in water for 30 minutes until they soften a little. 
  2. Drain, reserve one cup of water, and set the beans aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the onion for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the celery and carrots and continue to fry for another 2 minutes. 
  5. In the end, add the tomato paste and stir well to distribute evenly.
  6. Pour the beans into the pan and add gradually some of the reserved water until they are just covered. 
  7. Stir lightly and bring to a boil, keeping a lid on. 
  8. Simmer for about 30-35 minutes, until de beans become soft. 
  9. Pour the remaining olive oil, stirring in gently. 
  10. Season with salt and pepper and boil for another 5 minutes until the soup thickens.
Fasolada can be served on a cold and rainy day with crusty bread. Enjoy!