Fasolada (White Bean Soup)

Name: Joann Ryding
Class Year: 1976
Country of Residence: Greece

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

Fasolada (white bean soup) was the first local recipe I learned to make when I moved to Greece 30 years ago and my Greek husband still says I make the best fasolada he’s ever eaten. Fasolada is Greece’s emblematic national dish, served through the millennia, and it continues to  be a weekly family staple from Fall through Spring. Although it used to be known as the ‘poor man’s meat,’ sustaining Greek families in times of hardship, it was always recognized as a delicious and healthy source of protein and is as popular today as it’s ever been. 

There are slight regional variations to this dish, and people will argue over which is the most ‘authentic.’  I decided to put this regional rivalry to the good when I served as Vice President of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki and instituted the annual ‘Fasolada Contest Fundraiser’ in support of scholarships for children from throughout Greece. Contestants at the high-spirited events held in Thessaloniki in the north and Athens in the south submitted their entries which were judged by a committee of notables in Greece’s food circles. It was always a delight to see the pride inspired by this humble and beloved  dish.


Serves 8. Takes approx. 1.5 hours.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 celery root julienned
  • 2 celery ribs diced
  • 1 cup white baby beans rinsed (soaked overnight to soften)
  • 10-12 cups of water
  • 6 to 8 plum tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper (or seeds from chili pepper for more spice)
  • Strained fresh juice of 1 lemon.


In a large pot (or pressure cooker), heat olive oil. Saute onions, carrots, celery root and celery ribs for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently with wooden spoon until onions are translucent.

Add water, beans, tomatoes, salt, pepper (or chili pepper seeds) and bring all ingredients to a rolling boil. Lower heat. If not using a pressure cooker, lower heat and simmer 2 to 2.5 hours until beans are tender (if using a pressure cooker, simmer for 1 hour.)  Turn off heat and add lemon juice.

Serve with a slice of feta cheese, dark bread and kalamata olives. Wonderful when accompanied by a glass of red wine!



Diane Kochilas’ The Food and Wine of Greece. My addition is chili pepper seeds — adds just the right amount of heat to this traditional dish!

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