Fakes (Greek Lentil Soup)

20191208_213431There are a handful of Greek words that can be corrupted by kids who may or may not want to eat the dinner in front of them (foolish kids!).  I plead the fifth.

20191218_221740(All links open a new page, so you won’t lose your spot when you look around!  Get information on gardening and cultural traditions, recipes, stories, and more!)

Fakes (pronounced fuh-KEHS, yes, now you understand) is a simple yet hearty soup of lentils in a tomato rich broth.  Like many Greek dishes, there’s a hefty helping of onion, garlic, and olive oil, all of which are major components of the healthiest, and most flavorful, diet around: the Mediterranean diet.

20191218_221836As a kid, I wasn’t exactly a fan of this soup, but later realized it was because my mom usually served it with vinegar.  This, along with olive oil, is the traditional way to eat fakes, but it turns out I’m not a fan of the vinegar.  Once I had it without the vinegar (but for sure I kept the olive oil!), I was hooked.  You’re welcome to try it either way, but I’ll take a pass on that vinegar!20191218_221857

Fakes (Greek Lentil Soup) Recipe

  • Difficulty: easier than keeping my mom from adding the vinegar
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There are different varieties of lentils, and their cooking time can vary wildly from 20 minutes, which is what I had, to 1 1/2 hours.  Check the package because the time will change how you will need to prepare your soup.  I have instructions for both shorter and longer cooking varieties of lentils.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds yellow onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin preferred
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 cups broth (chicken, pork, turkey, or vegetable are all good options)
  • 2 cups dry lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 3 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil (extra virgin preferred) & red wine vinegar for serving (optional)


In a large stock pot, put the 1/4 cup olive oil and put on the stove at high heat.  Add the onions, turn the heat to medium, and saute until they are beginning to become translucent and a little browned.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.

If your lentils are a faster cooking variety (under 30 minutes), put the tomatoes in the pot.  If you started with fresh tomatoes, you will want to cook them until they have started to soften.  If you are using canned tomatoes, you will not need to do this step.  Add the broth and the bay leaves and bring to a boil, then add the lentils and turn the heat down to a simmer.  Continue to cook until the lentils are tender, but not falling apart.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

If your lentils are a longer cooking type (over 30 minutes), add the broth and bay leaves to the pot with the onions and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and turn the heat down to maintain a simmer.  Cook until the lentils are nearly tender, then add the tomatoes.  Continue to cook until the lentils and tomatoes are done.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Traditionally, fakes are served with olive oil and red wine vinegar offered at the table.  Both are optional, but I love the added olive oil.  Enjoy!

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