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Mash beans for creamy Greek soup

A pot of grain — farro — and pot of beans — cannellini — were the weekend products of my kitchen.

Per the prescription in my latest column, both factored into a few family meals. Italian deli salads with chopped salami, roasted peppers, pickled onions and blanched green beans were last night’s dinner. Tonight the grain and beans will harmonize in a Mexican-inspired side dish alongside fish tacos. For any are left over, soup is the likely destination.

Because I just stocked up on feta cheese and Kalamata olives, this Greek soup is a good candidate. Fasolada calls for mashing 1 cup of cannellini beans to thicken the soup and create its creamy texture.

Beans, of course, are ideal for wholesome, plant-based menus and eating on a budget. Find a recipe for Red Bean Tortilla Soup with my column, advocating for meal kits you make yourself.

Tribune News Service photo

Fasolada

4 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided (or 6 cups cooked beans)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

1 large red onion, peeled and chopped

3 medium celery stalks, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

Kosher salt, to taste

4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl, with a fork or potato masher, mash 1 cup of the beans to a paste.

In a large pot over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the oil and heat until shimmering.

Add the onion, celery, carrots and 1/2 of the teaspoon salt. Cook until vegetables begin to brown, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, for about 30 seconds.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until paste begins to brown, for about 2 minutes.

Stir in remaining canned or cooked beans along with mashed beans. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook until carrots are just tender, for about 20 minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in the vinegar. Then vigorously whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons oil.

Season with salt and the pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with the parsley, olives and feta.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Magazine (2018).