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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fasolada (Φασολάδα)

If people really are what they eat, then I am convinced that Greeks (and many Italians) are in no small part composed of various pulses. Growing up in a Greek household means that you have either learned to enjoy or to dread that next meal consisting of beans, lentils, and/or chickpeas; whether they are dried, fresh, roasted, baked, or boiled, believe me, we have had our fill.

True Greek soul food. Click to Enlarge Image.

Since the remotest antiquity, pulses have been a fundamental staple of Greek food culture. Indeed, beans were such a familiar item to Homer that he used a bouncing bean simile to describe the manner in which an arrow deflected from the armour of King Menelaus in a mortal encounter (Iliad, Book XIII, 589). And depending on whom you believe, Pythagoras either admonished against, or eagerly encouraged his fellows in the consumption of beans.

Best thing about beans? They’re cheap! Next best thing about beans? They are good for you. Third best thing about beans? They are easy to cook. Everybody wins with beans, unless one happens to be near the end of the Lenten fasting period…

For Greeks, the 40 day pre-Easter Lenten fast means beans have been quite common over the last little while, which means we are eagerly looking forward to the Paschal lamb this coming Easter Sunday. So, I will wish you all a Happy Easter and Καλή Ανάσταση! As a bonus, I will share with you what went into my last bowl of fasolada for quite some time to come. ;-)

This is my own version of the rustic bean soup which is a Lenten friendly dish and makes for a hearty vegan meal.


1 lb dried haricot (white kidney) beans
2 medium sized carrots, sliced into discs
2 medium cooking onions, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced thin
1 cup tomato sauce (i.e. pommodoro) or 3 finely diced tomatoes.
1 medium sized parsnip, quartered and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp. dried thyme
3 bay leaves
¼ cup of olive oil
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
4 - 6 garlic cloves, whole or halved
Salt and pepper

  1. Soak beans overnight in roughly three times their volume of water.
  2. Dump beans into a colander and rinse well before use.
  3. Put 3 quarts of water in a pot, add the beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim away surface foam as it develops. Boil beans for 15 minutes, continuing to skim away surface foam using a wooden spoon. At the 15 minute mark, skim off the last bit of foam and dump the pot’s contents into a colander to strain and rinse the beans. Also rinse the pot well.
  4. Put another 3 quarts of fresh water in the pot, bring it to a boil and add the beans. After 5 minutes, skim any remaining surface foam that may develop, and then add all of the remaining ingredients into the pot. Stir the contents of the pot well and when it has resumed boiling, cover the pot with its lid slightly ajar and let it simmer over low heat for 2 hours (or until the beans are soft). Stir occasionally and check to ensure ample liquid in the pot to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom. Though it is technically a soup, you do not want a very runny fassoulada, nor do you want one that is thick and gooey, so monitor the water content of the pot and add a cup or so if necessary.


Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand™
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.