Lentils have been eaten by mankind (women more than likely planted them, gathered them and cooked them in those early days) for over 10,000 years. It was a very easy dish to prepare with very few ingredients and of course, it is loaded with protein and iron, so if the men came back from the hunt empty-handed at least they had a warm lentil soup waiting for them that was totally nutritious! Another very Greek and traditional soup made from legumes is Fasoulada, Greek Bean Soup.
I owe this recipe to my friend Paul! A very long time ago, I made him a gift of a few bags of Greek lentils and promised to show how to cook them so it is about time I honored this vow! Greek Lentil Soup is called ‘Fakes’ in Greece, and is a very simple dish to make. You may see it in other blogs as Faki but that is just one lentil which would make a very watery soup.
Traditionally this soup does not contain tomatoes as they were brought over to Europe at the time of Columbus, nor were the carrots and celery added, which is more than likely the reason why I did not eat it when I was young however much my mother tried to force it on me and my sister, she did not like them when she was young, as well. In my village, most people still eat lentils this way! and some children will still say no to them.
The recipe below is a fairly modern version of the Greek traditional dish but I adore it non-the-less and I’m happy to say most of my hotel guests adore it as well regardless of whether or not they have tried the soup before. It’s the kind of soup that you can add things to it and it will still work. I know some people to have add bacon, chicken or just the broth, or many other types of vegetables and yet the soup is always delicious.
Most Greeks would add a few drops of red wine vinegar when they eat it and eat it with Kalamata Greek olives (Greek olives is a must!) and some fresh onions. I prefer to add a few drops of Tabasco sauce which is mainly vinegar, plus I love the added kick that it gives to the soup.
Theodora’s Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)
- 1 bag of Greek brown lentils
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 large celery stick, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 pinches of Greek oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the lentils: Lentils may contain small rocks and irregular looking beans that you do not want in your soup. To check the lentils, pour them in small batches onto a plate so they are able to spread out. Once you checked all the lentils rinse your lentils to remove any dirt. Throw the lentils into a big soup pot with enough water to cover them over.
- Add the chopped onion & garlic. Dice your carrots and celery and throw them into the pot as well. Add 2 bay leaves and 2 pinches of Greek oregano. Bring to boil.
- Stir in tomato paste and the chopped tomatoes, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add additional water if the soup becomes too thick.
- Add olive oil, simmer for 15 minutes or more, until lentils are done.
- Serve with some red wine vinegar or Tabasco, fresh onions and black Greek olives.