Greek Bean Soup (Fasolatha)

Oftentimes when there is not much at hand, the simplest of ingredients can be transformed into a delicious meal.  There have been occasions where I've had to rise to the challenge of putting together a family dinner from scratch using only a few basic ingredients, and tonight was one of those such nights.  When the larder is looking a little bare, I find as long as I have onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes and a few veggies available, then we won't go hungry.  Another of my essential staples are dried beans.  They add body and flavour to any dish, turning it into something more substantial and filling.  This kind of frugal cooking harks back to the days of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who created feasts for their family from only a handful of ingredients.  The irony is that whilst they cooked simple, peasant fare, they ate like kings.  A meal would often stretch for days, feed a large family, and be healthy and delicious too.  This is my kind of cooking.  One of the dishes I was brought up on is Fasolatha, or Greek bean soup.  It's wholesome peasant food at its best.  This just happens to be my grandmother's recipe, which I've tweaked with a little stock powder to add some depth to the flavour, but otherwise it remains true to her original recipe.  I tend not to make mine as watery as most soups - I prefer it a little on the thicker side, like a stew or a Greek version of baked beans.  You could even cook it with a little speck to make it even more heartier.

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