Fasolada, the Greek bean soup

Fasolada, the Greek bean soup, is one of the most popular dishes in Greece and a staple of the weekly, family diet especially during the winter months.

It’s a soup of dry white beans, olive oil, various vegetables and herbs and sometimes meat or fish depending on the region and local culinary traditions.

Fasolada was established as Greece’s national food during the dictatorship of Metaxas in the early 20th century, but the history of its preparation dates back to antiquity. Fasolada was a key element to “Pianopsia”, a custom celebrated in honor of god Apollo as part of a larger ritual called “Thisia.”
According to the myth, the semi God Theseus when heading to Crete in order to eliminate the Minotaur, stopped to the island of Delos where he performed a sacrifice to honor Apollo and swore that if he was the one to bring down the mythical creature he would offer ornamented olive branches to the God to thank him for his grace. In the seventh day of his victorious journey of return back home, there was barely anything to eat onboard so the sailors gathered everything they could and prepared a fasolada. Thus, Theseus established the celebration of “Pianopsia” (fasolada day) in order to thank Apollo for all his help.

Fasolada ‘s main ingredients apart from beans are onions sautéed in olive oil, tomato paste, celery, carrots and salt. Some home cooks often include various kind of peppers, dried chili peppers, bukovo or even pickled peppers, which give it a slightly spicy taste. In many parts of Greece fasolada is cooked or served with meat like sausages, especially in Pelion, as well as fish, usually smoked or salted, like smoked herring or taramosalata (fish roe salad). As a hot dish, fasolada is mostly preferred during the cold, winter months and it is served at the table accompanied by olives, various pickles fresh salad and rustic bread.
Fasolada is also a common dish in the diet of many countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt.

MLGFB Tip: How to make traditional fasolada

Ingredients: 500g dry white beans, 2-3 carrots finely chopped, 1 large red onion finely chopped, 3 stalks of celery, finely chopped, 130ml extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup), 2 tbsps tomato puree, a pinch of paprika or bukovo, salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Place the beans in a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover them. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium and parboil for 30-35 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain in colander and set aside.
  • Finely chop the onion, celery and carrots. Add 3-4 tbsps of olive oil in a deep pan, add the chopped vegetables and blend. Sauté for about 2 minutes and add the tomato paste and continue sautéing for a minute.
  • Add the parboiled beans in the pan and pour in enough boiling water to cover the beans and little bit more and blend lightly. Place the lid on and simmer the fasolada for about 35 minutes, until the beans are tender.
  • Towards the end of cooking time, pour in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Boil for a few more minutes, until the soup becomes thick and creamy
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