Fasolada (Greek Bean Stew)
When the weather cools down & the days get shorter, there is one thing my body starts to crave almost immediately - SOUP! I find my inclinations for raw, crunchy salads and cold smoothies naturally declining as my desire for warm, comforting, cooked foods increases.
Fasolada, Greek bean soup, is a deliciously easy recipe that I rely on in the winter months to satisfy those cravings. It can easily be made with canned beans to save on time, if you'd like, and is loaded with warming, grounding herbs & vegetables that really just hit the spot. This recipe will soon be part of your soup-season rotation, no doubt.
Note: if you do choose to use dried beans, make sure to soak them the night before you plan to make this recipe. Doing so will significantly cut down on cooking time.
Fasolada (Greek Bean Soup)
yields 6 servings
2 cups white beans, dry (navy or cannellini), soaked in plenty of water overnight or 3 cans of cooked beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup olive oil, divided
1 small-medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth (one 32 oz. box)
1 medium-large zucchini, chopped (optional - not traditionally Greek, but I like it in there)
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground paprika (not the smoked kind)
In a Dutch oven, or large heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Next, add the carrots, celery, and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Keep the heat on medium to avoid burning the garlic.
Mix in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, and the beans (either soaked or canned, drained well either way). Add the broth and **enough water (about 2 cups) to cover the beans and bring the mixture to a simmer.
**If using canned beans, you do not need to add the additional water as they will not soak up quite as much liquid when cooking.
Reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a simmer. If using soaked beans, simmer the soup for about 1.5 hours until the beans are tender. If using canned beans, 45 minutes - 1 hour is plenty of time for the soup to cook. Leave the lid off in order for the stew to thicken properly, and stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning. If the mixture looks too thick & dry, add in a small amount of water.
When the beans & vegetables are tender and the soup has reached a thick, stew-like consistency, add the chopped zucchini (if using), salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well and let simmer for another 15 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
Taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Finish the soup my mixing in the remaining olive oil, and any additional chopped fresh herbs, if you'd like.
Serve at the table with some crusty fresh bread, chopped scallions, and additional olive oil if desired.