Fakes Greek Traditional Lentil soup
Grandma's "Fakes soup" lentil soup
This Traditional Greek recipe for lentil soup brings back memories of my Grandmother and my childhood. I remember my grandmother cooking “Fakes” or “Faki” with joy because she loved this food but me and my sister as we were small children back then we used to say “Eww” at the sound of Lentil! We even used to play hide and seek when it was lunchtime and there was lentil soup on the table. My sister and I were hiding to avoid eating lentil and my grandma used to search the house to find us!
But as the years were passing by we learned to love “Faki”, and nowadays whenever we cook it, we think of our beloved grandmother who always used to cook with love.
Brown Lentil varieties
All legumes are nutritious but in my honest opinion Lentil is the king! Lentils and all their varieties are rich in iron, with very high nutritional value, and one of Vegan’s favorite food.
We have two varieties of brown lentils in my country the small and the big. Besides their size they also have a slightly different boiling time. The bigger lentil variety takes more time to cook and they absorb more water than the small ones.
I prefer the small variety as opposed to the big ones because in my opinion they have the perfect boiling time and they are tastier. Both varieties absorb a lot of water throughout cooking and do not stop until they get cold.
I like to eat Lentil with a fork, so I cook my soup to a little thicker than normal, nevertheless if you prefer a runny soup texture you can add water, after they have cooled, to get the texture you want.
The varieties of Lentils in detail:
The most common variety, which also appear with Khaki color sometimes, we will find them in subcategories BIG (Thick) and SMALL (Thin). They have a mild and earthy taste, tend to retain their shape and texture and are widely used in many different recipes and cooking methods. They are an excellent substitute for red meat.
Green French Lentil (Puy lentil):
Green French lentils are slightly smaller, need more time to cook and have a stronger, peppery taste. They also maintain their shape, which makes them ideal for cold salads and fish accompaniments. The only variety of lentil that has a protected designation of origin.
Black Lentil (Beluga):
Visually impressive when mixed with salads and cereals. These small, black and shiny lentils have an intense earthy taste. They also maintain their shape well. Black lentils tend to be more expensive than brown ones.
What we call “white lentils” is not actually lentils but exfoliated peeled black mung beans also called Black gram or Urad Dal).
Quite prevalent in Indian cuisine, these small, thin, and salmon-colored lentils are cooked quickly, taking on a golden color without losing their silky, soft texture, making them an excellent choice for soups and side dishes.
Can also be found in orange color instead of red. They are thinner and softer than brown or green lentils; this species breaks down quickly and does not retain its shape. For this reason, they are best suited for soups and stews. However, a serving of red lentils tends to be higher in calories, carbohydrates and proteins than a corresponding serving of green or brown lentils.
Yellow Mexican Lentil (Macachiados):
Sometimes they are mistaken for Yellow Split peas (fava) but the Yellow Mexican lentils are larger and they dissolve easily when cooked, making their texture ideal for soups.
Did you know that there is a Lentil festival each year at Pullman, Washington? Each year, the citizens of Pullman, congregate to enjoy, celebrate, and revel at The National Lentil Festival, a food festival honoring the lentil.
We have similar festivals in Greece but nothing so big and organized as the one in the USA. I wish in the following years we get to organize something so nice as well.
The Lentil Festival takes place every year the weekend before classes resume at Washington State University, also in Pullman.
There are many things to see and do at the National Lentil Festival, Friday night includes live musical entertainment, a kids’ carnival, free lentil chili, and many business and craft vendors. Saturday’s events include contests, The Lentil Cook-Off, many art and business vendors, a grand parade, lentil pancake breakfast, the Tase T. Lentil 5K Fun Run/Walk, beer garden, food court featuring lentil dishes, a large kids area, and many other great family activities.
A major highlight of this award-winning festival is the Legendary Lentil Cook Off. It is sponsored annually by the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, a non-profit organization founded in 1965 for the purpose of promoting and protecting those engaged in growing, processing, warehousing, and merchandising peas, lentils and chickpeas.
More info about the lentil festival you can find here.
Cooking lentil with fresh tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes are my culinary love. In whatever food we choose to add them, they automatically make it taste better and lentils are no exception to this rule.
If this is not your first time reading my recipes, you’ll probably have noticed that in almost all recipes that call for a tomato sauce along with canned and/or tomato paste I always make sure to add fresh tomatoes.
It is no coincidence that I named my food blog Fresh Piato (which translates to: “Fresh Dish” in Greek) because I like to always cook with fresh ingredients.
However, I also keep in mind the people who work a lot of hours and need to cook something fast so I try to suggest, whenever I can, an alternative in case there is no time to finely chop or grate the fresh tomatoes.
So in this recipe, you can replace the fresh tomato cut in cubes with another can of tomatoes and in this case, you can skip the tomato paste. So for a quick Fakes soup, you can just add 2 cans of tomatoes cut in cubes and that would be enough for the tomato sauce!
What goes with Fakes soup (Greek Lentil soup)
The lentil is beautifully accompanied with feta, homemade country bread, marinated anchovy or anchovies or smoked herring as a side dish.
Fakes Greek Traditional Lentil soup
- 500g Lentil
- 1 Onion Big finely chopped
- 1 Can tomatoes cut in cubes
- 1 Fresh tomato cut into cubes
- 70g Tomato paste
- 2 Carrots, cut into rounds
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 cups of water (approximately)
- 4 Tbsp vinegar for the finish
- Salt / Pepper to taste
- Spread the lentils on a plate and remove any bean that has a different color or looks strange because it can be a little stone instead of a bean.
- Add the lentil to a pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 7 minutes.
- Drain the lentil with a strainer in your kitchen sink and leave them there.
- Sauté the onion with the garlic and add the carrots.
- Then add the tomatoes (canned, paste and fresh in cubes) the lentil, the bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes but make sure you check it once every 10min or so and stir well, also checking if more water is needed.
- Just before it’s ready add the vinegar, stir and remove the Bay leaf so that it does not accidentally fall on a plate as you serve it. If you prefer, you can add more vinegar on your plate after you serve it.
- Depending on the brand, variety, and age of Lentil some require less and others more time to cook.
- You need to be alert when lentil is simmering because they absorb a lot of water and tend to dry quickly. You might need to add more water sometimes to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Fresh tomatoes can be replaced with a tomato can if you are in a hurry.