According to food historians, fassolatha has been around since ancient Greek times. It is the national dish of Greece, representing the best of the Greek way of cooking: legumes, vegetables, herbs, and olive oil. Whether you make it with tomato or lemon, culinary tradition dictates that fassolatha be served with crusty bread, feta cheese and black olives.
1 1/2 cups of white beans (Great Northern or cannellini) rinsed, soaked 24 hours and drained (yeah, yeah, used canned or ones in jars.)
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, sliced or cut in chunks
1 large mild onion, grated
4-8 stems of wild celery or cutting celery (or 5-6 stalks of celery), leaves and stalks, chopped
1 14.5 oz. can seeded, peeled, chopped plum tomatoes (or 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste)
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspooon of salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon of pepper (or to taste)
flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
8-10 cups of water
Place drained beans and bay leaves in a large soup pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
Add carrots, onion, celery, and simmer for 30 minutes longer.
Add tomatoes or tomato paste, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and cook for 30 minutes. The beans should be soft and creamy, but not to the point of disintegrating.
Remove from heat, season to taste, and serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Fassolatha bean soup is served warm or at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 4-6
To make "white" fassolada (without tomatoes), leave out the tomatoes, cook as above, and just before serving, stir in the juice of 1 lemon.
During the simmering time, you may need to add more water. Make sure to add boiling water, and not more than a half of a cup at a time. Fassolatha is not a puree type of thick soup, but should not be watery.