Tolmee is getting ready for Greek Easter.
Before the big day, though, we’ll pass through a contemplative 40 day Lent. To honor this time, we will attempt to abstain from consuming meat and other animal products. While doing so, we will be teaching our kids how to appreciate animal-product free meals. We’ll try to appeal to a wide range of youthful paletes, yet still find ways to amp up taste and nutritional value.
The first recipe in our kid approved series, is actually a 2 for 1, Fasolatha Bean Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock. Christos swears that Fasolatha soup is Greece’s national dish. I would have thought souvlaki. In any event, I started researching and creating Tolmee’s take on this luscious and filling white bean soup. Along the way, I came to appreciate how important extra virgin olive oil is in this recipe. A simple ingredient list (dried white beans, simple vegetables and spices) meant that a low quality oil could leave the soup tasting flat or worse, metallic. If you own a nice olive oil, splurge and use it here. The difference in taste will be noticable.
With my Fasolatha recipe underway, Christos requested that I create a vegetarian stock recipe as well. He pointed out that we could deliver more flavor with a homemade stock while avoiding all those “yucky chunky bits” that some kids fish out of soup anyway.
While researching the recipes, however, I felt some concern; would making a vegetable stock and a dried bean soup at the same time be too complicated? Here were my thoughts...
- Soaking beans overnight requires some serious forethought. Solution - Quick soak the beans.
- Two recipes at once can be complex. Solution: Streamline the recipe by quick soaking the beans and using a pressure cooker.
- Total cook time is 1 hour and 40 minutes, which isn’t an quick weeknight meal. Solution - Make 3 1/2 quarts of stock, enough for two soups, so the next soup can be a quick 30 minute dinner. (Thank you America’s Test kitchen! I adapted their pressure cooker vegetable stock)
By following this timeline, you should find 1 hour and 40 minutes (including chopping!) is enough. At the end, you’ll have Fasolatha soup and roughly 6 cups of remaining vegetable stock. You can always add some extra water to stretch the stock out a little and it will still taste better than store bought stock. Remember to freeze leftovers. Or just go wild and serve vegetable stock to the kids for a nutritious after school snack!
Whether you keep a strict vegan diet during Lent or mix it up a little, we hope you’ll try our kid approved vegan recipes with your family. We’d love your feedback and your recipe ideas in return. Please send thoughts and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the some streamlined steps you can take:
- Quick soak beans in a 4 quart saucepan (recipe below)
- Follow the vegetable stock recipe and start the timer for pressure cooker (recipe below)
- Dice the vegetables small for the Fasolatha soup and lay out all the soup ingredients
- When pressure cooker timer rings, drain the beans and leave them in the colander
- Then strain the vegetable stock into the saucepan you used to soak the beans
- Finally reuse the pressure cooker for the Fasolatha soup (don’t clean the pressure cooker)
Total time for Fasolatha soup with homemade vegetable stock: 1 hr 40 minutes
Recipe for Quick Soak Beans
- Boil 4 quarts of water in a saucepan
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt to boiling water
- Add 1 pound of dried white beans to boiling water (such as Great Northern, or Cannellini beans)
- Cover and move off burner, soak for at least 1 hour or until vegetable stock is done
Recipe for Vegetable Stock
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 onions rough chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
- 2 celery ribs, rough chopped
Saute all the ingredients in vegetable oil on medium heat in the pressure cooker for 7 to 10 minutes. Let vegetables brown a little, and add 1 cup of water to help you scrape up all browned bits from bottom of pot. It’s easiest with a wooden spoon.
Now rough chop the following ingredients:
- 15 garlic cloves, lightly crushed, skins discarded
- ½ head cauliflower (1 pound), rough chop
- 1 tomato, cored and rough chop
- 4 scallions, rough chop
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs, whole
- 1½ teaspoons table salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 11 cups of water
Put everything together into the pressure cooker and stir well. The liquid should cover the vegetables amply.
Lock pressure-cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. As soon as pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 hour, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure.
After 1 hour on high, remove pressure cooker from heat. Quick release pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
Drain the beans and leave in the colander. Strain the vegetable stock through fine-mesh strainer into the saucepan that held the beans
Recipe for Fasolatha Soup in the Pressure Cooker
- 3-4 tablespoons high quality olive oil
- 1 Yellow onion, diced small
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped small
- 2 celery stalks, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
Saute the vegetables with high quality olive oil in the now empty pressure cooker for 7 to 10 minutes on medium. Add the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
- Beans quick soaked from the colander
- 1 teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Stir everything together until the beans are nicely coated. Add 6 cups of Vegetable Stock from saucepan.
Lock pressure-cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. As soon as pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure.
Remove pot from heat and allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
Taste beans for doneness; don’t worry if they’re still a little hard for your taste...simply simmer beans gently over medium heat as needed until tender. Add water to thin soup if you prefer. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 bunch of parsley (roughly chopped).
Serve & Enjoy!