This dish is often referred to as “the national food of the Greeks”. It’s ironic that the one person in my family that’s from Greece, is the one that likes beans the least. Yes, Mom, I’m calling you out!
Traditionally, this soup would be made exclusively with dried white Navy beans. However, unlike my mom, I really
like love beans (and my mom, too!). There are so many different colors and patterns that I find it kind of fun to collect them for my pantry. Though the flavors aren’t that different (at least to me), having a mixture of beans does lend a more robust flavor to any dish, so why not use them? It’s a moot question, there really is no other answer than “Yeah!!!”
If you wanted to go the true-to-tradition route, by all means, do so. However, if you are a daredevil like I am, go for the mixture! Just be sure to use beans that have similar soaking and cooking times. You don’t want to use something like split peas that would dissolve while the other beans are still soaking overnight. Sadly, some of those pretty beans won’t look as nice after they are cooked, but who cares, you don’t have eyes in your stomach!
Mixed Bean Fasolada (Greek Bean Soup) Recipe
- 6 cups dried beans, rinsed and checked over for any dirt/rocks (I used an even mixture of kidney, pinto, navy, small white, pink, small red, black, cranberry, garbanzo, black eye pea, small lima, large lima, and mayocabo)
- 12 cups hot broth (pork or chicken are good options, but you can easily use vegetable broth for a vegan option)
- 1 lb. onion, sliced
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice (or 3 1/2 to 4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped)
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin preferred) + extra for serving
- 2-3 bay leaves
- salt & pepper to taste
After rinsing your beans, place them in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by at least a couple of inches. Allow the beans to soak for several hours, about 8-12. Drain the water from the beans and carefully rinse off as much of the soaking water as you can. Try not to break the beans. The soaking water is perfect for using in your garden as long as it isn’t salted.
Add the hot broth to the pot of beans, bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook the beans, uncovered, until they are almost done. They should be tender enough to bite into, but still a little firm without being crunchy. This can take 30-45 minutes depending on the variety, quality, and age of your beans.
Add the carrots, onions, bay leaves, and olive oil and continue to cook until the carrots and onions are soft. (It is important to not add the tomatoes until the beans are done, as the acid in them will keep the beans from getting any softer!!) Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and mix in once the beans are at your desired texture. I find it easiest to add the tomato paste by placing it into a bowl with some of the hot broth, then whisk it together until smooth before returning it all to the pot. Add any salt and pepper as desired. When serving the soup, it is customary to offer red wine vinegar and additional extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling over the top for an additional burst of flavor. Enjoy!