Greek Style Tomato and Bean Soup with lemon, mint and parsley

16 Feb

 Lemons are one of my kitchen staples. I couldn’t cook without them. Their juice adds a zing to any curry that lifts all the other flavours. A squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of good olive oil is all you need for the best salad dressing. The zest gives a brightness to cakes and cookies that could otherwise be too sweet. And no paella (vegetarian or not) would be complete without those sunny little wedges to spritz over as you serve.

If you taste a dish just before serving and think that there’s something missing, that it’s not quite right. Squeeze over some fresh lemon juice, add a pinch more salt and taste it again. The dish will come alive.

I always make sure I have a bowl of lemons in my kitchen, it makes me feel safe and the aroma of freshly squeezed or zested lemons makes the kitchen smell fresh and clean.  Lemons are best friends with another of my kitchen staples, fresh herbs. If you have lemons and fresh parsley, coriander, mint or basil you are seconds away from making an okay dish into an outstanding one. An uninspiring bowl of pasta with tomato sauce can be transformed with the last-minute addition of lemon juice and fresh basil. Any curry, South East Asian, Caribbean or Indian, would be dreadfully incomplete without the final squeezing over of fresh lemon juice (or it’s more exotic cousin, the lime) and a large handful of fresh coriander.

Lemon, mint and parsley are the stars of this Greek style soup. Mint and parsley are widely used in Greek and Middle Eastern cooking. The freshness of mint with the saltiness of a Greek Feta or Cypriot Halloumi cheese is a match made in heaven, squeeze over some fresh lemon juice and you have arrived…..

Greek Style Tomato & Bean Soup with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

serves 4 – 6, vegetarian/ vegan without the Feta

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced (you can use a small onion)
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 or 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 jar/tin cooked butter beans about 400 gr
  • 1/2 jar/tin kidney beans 200 gr
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 1 lemon
  • a splash of white wine (optional)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • about a litre of veg stock 
  • 10 squares of frozen spinach or 1 bag of fresh (about 300 gr)
  • 100 gr quinoa (or orzo, rice, small pasta)
  • 75 gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 10 or 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • a handful of black olives (if you like them, I don’t)

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large deep saucepan. Add the onions/leeks, celery, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, chilli flakes and dried oregano. Season with salt & black pepper and cook until softened about 4 or 5 minutes. Then add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add a splash of wine and stir in the shredded cabbage, butter beans, kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Zest the lemon, add it to pot with half of the juice and the tomato puree. Add the veg stock, season well with salt & black pepper and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down & simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add in the quinoa or pasta, olives and the frozen spinach (if using fresh stir it through a couple of minutes before serving just to wilt). Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes until the quinoa/pasta/rice is cooked.

Just before serving squeeze  the rest of the lemon juice into the pot or serve some wedges on the side. Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with some crumbled Feta, sprinkle over the chopped mint & parsley and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil…….

You can make this soup with whatever beans you have in your cupboard. White beans and chickpeas would be good. I had some cooked quinoa in the fridge so I added it in. It may not be authentic but the texture worked and it’s high in protein which is great for vegetarian dishes. Just make sure you use the dried oregano (a key Greek seasoning) as well as the fresh mint, parsley, lemon juice and Greek Feta and it will be delicious………….

13 Responses to “Greek Style Tomato and Bean Soup with lemon, mint and parsley”

  1. Adora's Box February 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Outstanding! I like food packed with vegetables and other healthy stuff. Looks so tasty, too.

  2. Rhian sellers February 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Will def be trying this one, feel inspired after last night, remind me again of the main x

    • foodblogandthedog February 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

      It was a butternut squash & chickpea curry but it is the same recipe as for my sweet potato curry. Just put “sweet potato curry” in the search at the top of the page, good luck!!

  3. Roxan February 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    This soup looks absolutely heavenly! I love everything about it… It looks so comforting, especially today as it is raining here in LA. Water is dripping down the windows and it is dark and grey out there.

  4. happywhennothungry February 17, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    This soup looks delicious! It looks so fresh and healthy!

  5. Ami February 17, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    OMG ur soups are so healthy and yummy i’m definitely gonna try this and some other one’s in ur site. Tnks for sharing.

  6. Rita February 17, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Just the list of ingredients makes me hungry! It’s a very rich soup, full of flavor and zest! Tasty!🙂

  7. Medeja February 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Nice.. I like lemon and mint in it.. It just reminded me that my mint I had in balcony has died..

  8. tiffany February 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Lemon and fresh herbs add such brightness to dishes! This soup sounds clean, crisp, and comforting!!!!

  9. Liz February 17, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    This is such a beautiful soup…full of delicious, healthy ingredients. I know we’ve still got a bit of winter left, and this would be perfect for dinner on a cold evening!

  10. fooddreamer February 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    It looks so hearty and filling and I bet the lemon, mint and parsley really brighten up the flavours.

  11. Meg (The Red Spoon) February 21, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    Yum, yum and more yum! This looks so delicious! I love anything with beans, and cheese, and splashes of white wine. And I totally agree on the lemons, they add such a great flavor bump to any dish!

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