Traditional White Bean Soup. Recipe by Koula Barydakis. Intro by Bill Bradley, R.D.
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.
This version of the soup is quicker as it uses canned beans. Instead of dried orange slices we throw in a few slices of fresh orange. It is simple to make, but once it is done, it still has the flavor of the original.
White bean soup is great for lunch or dinner. It is often eaten with a Greek salad, crusty bread and some wine. The soup is vegan and if you want to keep your meal vegan then serve with a simple salad topped with Greek dressing. It also goes well with sautéed swiss chard or spinach with feta and lemon.
From “Foods of Crete: Traditional Recipes from the Healthiest People in the World” by Koula Barydakis and Bill Bradley, R.D. Purchase in the Mediterranean Living Shop.
Koula Barydakis was born into a long tradition of eating and living Mediterranean on the Greek island of Crete. She is a chef who has worked in many of the top restaurants in Crete and in Greek Town in Toronto, Canada. Koula is the co-author of “Foods of Crete, Traditional Recipes of the Healthiest People in the World” and is currently completing her second cookbook. Koula teaches cooking classes to tourists in Crete and has been hired to teach classes in other countries as well.