This soup is regarded as one of the national dishes of Greece and is utterly delicious, bursting with flavour and healthy too being a perfect vegetarian and vegan option.

There are often debates as to the proper method of making this soup-should you or shouldn’t you use oregano is a matter of opinion, (well I do).

The Athenians take this dish very seriously holding annual competitions amongst the high society as to who makes the best soup. Trophies are awarded to the winners.

This big, hefty soup, which is substantial enough to be a meal in itself, especially when accompanied by olives, Feta cheese, salted fish, raw onion and bread.

Good olive oil is essential for the preparation of this soup too.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

225g (8oz) dried cannelline or white kidney beans,

soaked in water overnight

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrots, finely chopped

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp tomato puree

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar (optional)

100ml (1⁄2 cup) virgin olive oil

juice if 1⁄2 lemon

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Drain the soaked beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain again to remove the toxins from the beans. Cover once again with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients except the seasoning (salt will prevent the beans from softening). Cover the pan and continue to simmer until the beans are tender adding more water if needed.

Season to taste and serve in large bowls garnished with chopped parsley and a swirl of good virgin olive oil.

N.B. Many people find that the flavour of this soup improves if eaten the following day.

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