Serves 6

The traditional Greek bean soup, fasolada (fah-so-LAH-da), relatively unknown outside the country, is so popular with residents that it is often called Greece’s national dish. The name fasolada comes from fasoli, Greek for beans, a key ingredient in the cuisine. The simple recipe doesn’t seem like it will result in a bowl that is quite as flavorful as it is. Soak dried white beans overnight and simmer them first on their own, then with carrots, onions, and celery, and finally with pureed fresh tomatoes. If your beans have been in the pantry for a long time, you may need to cook them longer than the 1½ hours called for here (the soup hardly requires your attention during simmering). Fasolada benefits from generous salting, and do not skip adding a high-quality olive oil at the end, which thickens the soup and is vital to the flavor. As with all bean soups, this one thickens more on standing and may need water when reheated. Serve with feta, olives, and bread. 

1 pound (2½ cups) dried Great Northern or cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
8 cups water
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
3 fresh tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup olive oil

1. In a soup pot, combine the beans and water. Bring to a boil and skim any foam that rises to the surface. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Add the carrots, celery, onion, salt, and pepper and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add more water during the cooking if the water level falls below the beans.

3. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the tomatoes and tomato paste and blend until smooth. Pour the tomato mixture into the pot, stir well, and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

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4. Add the olive oil to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. (Total simmering time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.) Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Jill Gibson 

Jill Gibson can be reached at

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