I’ve been lucky enough to lose my heart in Greece many times. The sun drenched beaches, the isolated islands, the crystal clear waters and, after getting over the initial few years of surviving on souvlaki’s and gyros, I fell head over heels for the Greek cuisine too. Greek Fakes is a favourite and a dish I always go back to in January, when I dream of holiday’s and remember the first time I ate this tomatoey lentil stew after a morning spent swimming in the magical Aegean. Sprinkled with gleaming white salty feta it tasted all the better with the taste of the sea still on your lips and sitting in the welcoming shade.
So until I can swim in that sea again here I make my version of this incredible Greek creation – easy, nourishing, nostalgic and healthy and perfect for lunch the next day too. It’s more of a stew than a soup. Make it in bulk, serve with a loaf of crusty fresh bread and a slab of good quality feta to crumble in your bowl. Apolamváno̱!
Ali’s Fakes Soupa (Ali’s Lentil Soup) Preparation 10 mins, Cooking 20ish mins…
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large carrots, diced
2 big sticks of celery, diced
Olive oil or rapeseed oil, for frying
2 x cans of best quality Italian/ Greek tomatoes, whole or diced
Pinch of sugar (this perks up the tinned tomatoes somehow)
500ml of stock – best quality, I use fresh chicken or lamb when I can. If using vegetable stock best to make your own.
250g split red lentils
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme, picked
Freshly ground pepper
Flat leaf parsley
Good quality Red wine vinegar
Prepare your diced vegetables and garlic and heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
Add your onions first and cook gently for 5 minutes, allowing them to soften but not to colour. Then add your carrot, celery and garlic. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add your tomatoes and a pinch of sugar. If you’re not using diced tomatoes, then squash the whole ones with a potato masher as you add them. Add your pinch of sugar.
Bring to a gentle boil and add then add your lentils and stir well to combine.
Add your oregano, chilli flakes and thyme and/ or any other sprigs of herbs you fancy.
Season with salt and pepper, but be cautious – you’ll be serving salty feta with it later.
Stir and then add your stock.
Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and the whole pot thickens.
Chop some parsley and serve the stew with a pile of diced feta in the middle and a sprinkle of parsley and a splash of red wine vinegar. Trust me about the vinegar, it makes the dish!