Lenten Greek Bean Soup ( Fassolatha ) March 31, 2016

   Lenten Greek Bean Soup ( Fassolatha )  March 31, 2016Fasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-13

During Lent we all try to give up a favorite food or sweet to cleanse the soul and make a sacrifice for God. There are all levels of fasting that range from not eating meat on Wednesday and Friday to those who give up meat and dairy and live off of a vegan diet for the 40 days of Lent.

My Grandmother Pauline was one of those who fasted and for 40 days only ate beans, greens and vinegar. Many will give up meat, but the younger generation rarely gives up meat and dairy.

During Holy week no matter what fasting path you followed most Greek Orthodox Christians will fast from meat and on Good Friday partake in the Vegan diet eliminating the dairy and the meat.

Attending Church services during lent go hand and hand with the sacrifices and meaning of Lent. Some of the most beautiful Greek Orthodox Church services and amazing hymns can only be heard at services leading up to Easter.

I do fast all 40 days from meat and follow the no dairy or meat on Good Friday.  It makes me feel spiritual and the Lenten Church services strengthen my faith in the Greek Orthodox Religion.

This vegan Bean Soup also known as Fassolatha is a staple in a Greek home during Lent. My mother made it every week and even though it did not have meat, it was hearty and delicious.  I made just a few changes in her recipe and I believe you will love it any time of the year, but especially during Lent.

My Mom always topped this hot bowl of bean soup with raw onion and a drizzle of olive oil. I believe this is why I can bite into a raw onion  and eat it all without even blinking, Lol!Fasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup - Copy

Lenten Greek Bean Soup  (Fassolatha)

Prep time: 20 min.    Cooking time: 1 hour    Serves : 10-12

2 16oz bags raw navy beans

2 lbs. baby carrots ( cut on an angle)Fasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-6 - CopyFasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-5 - Copy (2)Fasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-1a - Copy

4-6 garlic cloves minced

6-8 tbsp. olive oil

6 sprigs fresh thyme

4 celery stalk cut on an angle( bias) 1/2 inch

2 med white onion ( cut in thin slivers)

2 cups chopped kale ( no stems)

1 tbsp. pepper

1 tbps. sea salt

1 tbsp. granulated garlicFasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-8 - CopyFasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-10Fasolatha-Lenten Bean Soup-3a - Copy

1 tbsp. granulated onion

1  14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes

1  29 oz can tomato puree

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp, cayenne pepper (optional)

Soak the navy beans in a big pot filled with cold water overnight. Drain the next day, refill the pot with a gallon of water and cook beans on med, stirring often until soft, about 45-60 min. In another Soup pot add 2 tbsp. of the olive oil and turn the heat to low. Add the garlic and thyme sprigs, cover and stir often about 5  minutes. Add the carrots, cover and continue to cook on low for an additional 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 3 tbsp. olive oil and then add the celery, onion, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and cayenne pepper if you want a little kick. Stir well to cover veggies with the spices. Cook on med-low for about 15 minutes until tender.

Now add the tomato puree and the diced tomatoes  and stir well and turn heat to med-low.The pot with the beans cooking should be simmering and the beans should be cooked through and soft at this point. Skim any of the foam off the top of the beans. With a slotted spoon, add 6 cups of cooked beans from the bean pot to the soup pot.

Take a hand blender and immerse into the pot. Start blending the bean for about 30 seconds until smooth. Then pour the pureed beans into the soup mixture and stir well. You may need to add a little water if you want more liquid in the soup.  Add the red wine vinegar and let simmer for 15 more minutes, then taste for seasoning.

 This soup will taste even better the next day. The flavors are so rich that not even vegetable stock is needed. Now ladle in a bowl and if you have an iron clad stomach like me top the soup with chopped raw onion and a drizzle of olive oil………that is how my Mom served it!

Enjoy….Kali Anastasi……..Chef Steff

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