Template for a classic Greek bean soup recipe


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 (Greek red pepper flakes) or a couple of hot chiles. Mint and red 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 to give the soup a creamy, dense texture. The choices are yours to make! Add a generous amount of additional olive oil when serving the soup, and accompany it with a side of feta and/or salted sardines. Note that the beans need to soak overnight, so plan ahead.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 1 pound (450 g) dried medium-size white beans, such as cannellini, picked over for debris and rinsed
  • ⅔ cup (160 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 3 large red onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped, or 1½ cups (150 g) chopped wild celery with leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (330 g) chopped canned plum tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Greek balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup (25 g) chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Choice of Additions
  • 2 (1-inch-wide / 2.5 cm) strips orange zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler), added with the vegetables
  • 2 dried red chiles, added with the vegetables
  • ½ cup (45 g) parched corn, added with the vegetables
  • ½ cup (25 g) chopped fresh mint, added at the end
  • 1 cup diced browned sausage meat, added about ¾ of the way through cooking
  • 6 to 8 salted sardines, added to the individual soup bowls when served
  • 4 to 6 ounces (115 to 170 g) Greek feta, crumbled, added as garnish
How to Make It
  1. Put the beans in a bowl and add cold water to cover. Set aside at room temperature to soak overnight. Drain and rinse them; set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat ⅓ cup (80 ml) of the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the beans and toss to coat with the oil. Pour in the tomatoes and 8 cups (2 L) water and bay leaves. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming off any foam from the top as it cooks, for about 2 hours, or until the soup is thick and creamy and the beans and vegetables are very soft. About 10 minutes before removing from the heat, stir in the vinegar and parsley, taste, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. As soon as you remove the soup from the heat, pour in the remaining ⅓ cup (80 ml) olive oil. Serve hot, garnished, if desired, with a couple of sardines and a little feta sprinkled over each bowl or served on the side.

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