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If you ask any Greek person what is one of the most basic dishes that is cooked at Greek homes all the time- perhaps even every week- they’ll probably answer: ‘Fakes’. Fakes is the Greek name for lentils, and when Greeks refer to this, they don’t mean lentils in general, they mean a particular lentil soup.

Here are the steps we use when we cook it at home. I won’t give a recipe per se, because it’s one of those dishes where recipes are not followed, and which slightly changes from time to time, according to taste & what we have in the flat.

Greek lentil soup

  • Rinse the lentils (about 500 gr., preferably brown or green ones) ) well with water, put them in a pan, cover them with water & bring them to the boil. When the water has boiled, drain it & give the lentils a good rinse again
  • Chop an onion very finely (if you want, add some celery & garlic too. I personally don’t like celery or garlic with lentil soup, but it’s up to you)
  • Sautee the onion in olive oil until it’s soft & mushy
  • When it’s soft, I like to add some red wine, or even some marsala
  • Add the lentils you’ve already pre-boiled & mix them up for a minute with the oniony-oily base so that they’re well coated
  • At this stage, if you want add a couple of sliced carrots (I omit or add these, according to mood)
  • Add water, enough to cover the lentils generously (the amount is really according to taste, we don’t like our lentil soup watery)
  • Also add some tomato passata or chopped tomatoes, usually about half a bottle of passata or one small can of chopped tomatoes. You could also have your lentil soup with no tomatoes
  • Finally, add 2 bay leaves, some dried oregano & if you want some dried thyme, too
  • Bring to the boil, and after that partly cover your pan & let the lentil soup simmer for a while. It’ll take about an hour to cook, but that really depends on the type of lentils you’re using, so keep an eye on the soup, add water if you feel it’s running out, & make sure you stop cooking the soup when the lentils are soft & cooked through.
  • Leave to cool to room temperature & eat with crusty bread, perhaps some olives or anchovies, and a bit of red wine vinegar (if you want) to go with.
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