Don’t you love it when a food is both a comfort food and good for you? I know I do because I feel fine eating a little extra even if I’m already full. Mediterranean soups are totally in this category. What you’ll notice about a Mediterranean soup is that they contain beans, legumes, dark leafy greens, herbs, and lots of vegetables. Another common theme is that the broth is flavored with extra virgin olive oil and herbs, instead of things like heavy cream and butter. This is, of course much healthier, and much lighter. Some soups are still creamy but are thickened with an egg-lemon sauce instead of heavy cream.
Part of the reason Mediterranean soups are so comforting is that they contain A LOT of extra virgin olive oil. This is the main fat used in Mediterranean cooking and it’s true of Mediterranean soups as well. For example, the first recipe below, Greek White Bean Soup with Orange Slices and Olive Oil, also known as “fasolada”, contains one whole cup of extra virgin olive oil! The lentil soup recipe below also contains one cup of extra virgin olive oil. These soups are flavored with herbs and orange peel which gives the soups a unique citrus flavor. All of these lentils and beans taste best with a lot of extra virgin olive oil. It’s very traditional to have good crusty bread for dipping and some crumbled feta for garnish. What I like to do for these two soups is sprinkle on black pepper and a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar.
Meat is incorporated into Mediterranean soups but just like other Mediterranean recipes, it’s included in small amounts. All of the recipes below that contain meat, also contain lots of dark leafy greens, herbs, and vegetables. The herbs make digesting the meat much easier. Below, I’ve included soup recipes with pork, chicken, beef, and lamb. Men tend to love these soups and it’s a great way to get men to start eating a Mediterranean diet. Soups are great because you can easily sneak in greens and vegetables but they’ll gladly eat it because there’s also some meat in there.
I hope you enjoy these Mediterranean soup recipes and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any Mediterranean soup suggestions for me to make in the future I am all ears!
Greek White Bean Soup with Orange Slices and Olive Oil
My first experience with white bean soup, one of my favorite Mediterranean Diet recipes, was in the old town of Chania on the Greek island of Crete. I was renting an apartment above a Native American store (yes, it’s true) and I had been introduced to a woman in her 80’s who lived across the street. One day, she brought me some of the national dish of Greece: White bean soup. Beans are the number one protein eaten in the Mediterranean and white bean soup is the number one bean dish eaten in Greece. This woman who brought me the soup made it the traditional way; beans made from scratch; lots of olive oil; bay leaves and slices of dried orange. The next day I brought her some chocolate covered oranges and then we traded foods back in forth for the rest of the time I lived on the island.
Intro by Bill Bradley R.D.
Recipe by Koula Barydakis
Zucchini Basil Soup with Lemon
Try this beautiful Zucchini basil soup with lemon from our friend, Craig Fear. His blog, Fearlesseating.net, is an amazing resource for homemade bone-broths and so many creative, delicious soups and stews. A lot of his recipes are influenced by his travels in Southeast Asia. Craig is very good at using what’s in season, and this recipe was created at a time when zucchini was extremely abundant. The lemon and basil work so well in this simple soup.
Lentil Soup with Olive Oil and Orange (Greek Island of Crete)
Lentil soup is a very popular recipe in Greece. People eat this very often because it’s healthy, tasty, easy to make, and very cheap. It uses a whole cup of extra virgin olive oil which is a big reason why this soup is so tasty, and so healthy. This soup is flavored simply with garlic, orange slices, onion, tomato paste, and bay leaf. This is a very simple soup as you can see, but with some very deep flavors thanks to the orange slices and the bay leaf. A little crumbled feta and some good crusty bread for dipping are essential for this soup!
Recipe by Koula Barydakis
Chicken Leek Soup with White Wine (Island of Crete-Greece)
This soup is great for a cold day. The white wine, leeks, and chicken all make for an addicting broth. Any Mediterranean diet recipe that has wine, olive oil, and leeks/onions is bound to be delicious. The pinch of nutmeg makes this broth taste unique. This is the kind of soup that will warm you up and open up your sinuses. The chicken breast is very lean so it’s going to need some fat, hence the 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Italian Meatball Soup Recipe (Grain-Free)
Every now and then, I come across a dish that’s so simple and so flavorful, that I imagine this is something Italian grandmothers all over America made prior to World War II. A great example is an Italian meatball soup. It’s basically just grass-fed meatballs in a bone broth infused with tomato paste, basil, thyme and parsley and then finished off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Better yet, it’s something that could even be considered low-carb and it’s easily adapted for a grain-free or even dairy-free diet (though the addition of the parmesan cheese is quite magical). It’s become one of my absolute favorite Italian meals and whether you’re Italian or not, I’m confident you’ll agree.
Intro and Recipe by Craig Fear
Greek Easter Lamb Soup with Egg Lemon Sauce
A very traditional Greek Easter lamb recipe that is served Holy Saturday after church, around midnight, is magiritsa. This soup is traditionally made with the intestines of the lamb. I’ve substituted the intestines with regular lamb meat in this soup. The broth is an extremely delicious avgolemono (egg-lemon) with lots of extra virgin olive oil, dill, and romaine lettuce. This is the first meat dish that is eaten after the 40-day lent, with the spit-roasted lamb coming the next day. This soup reminds me of my grandparents’ house because they would often have a soup similar to this with pork instead of lamb, and with big pieces of artichokes. They made that soup throughout the year, and they made magiritsa for Easter. The taste brings me back to visiting them as a kid and them feeding me traditional Greek foods that I was so anxious to eat. I want to thank Koula for sending this recipe and bringing back so many good memories of my Yia Yia’s (Grandmother’s) cooking.
Intro by George Zikos
Recipe by Koula Barydakis
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
This Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale will make you feel like you are eating in a small restaurant in Italy. It is the perfect hearty soup for a wintry day. Most beans soups are full of nutrition and this one is no exception: fiber from the beans and kale; vitamins A, K and C from the Kale; protein from the beans and sausage and healthy fat from the extra virgin olive oil. Although I don’t eat sausage often, I still try to get uncured sausage from grass-fed animals. This makes for a much healthier sausage. This is a great recipe for someone who is being introduced to the Mediterranean Diet as it still has a meaty taste to it, but is also packed with lots of healthy vegetables, beans and herbs.
Recipe by Bill Bradley R.D.