Fassolia me Selino

White Bean Soup with Wild Celery and Lemon

THIS SIMPLE SOUP really needs the strongly aromatic wild celery, the Greek selino, which is very different from the American or northern European variety. It has become available in Greek markets only during the past decade, but in her Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Paula Wolfert notes that wild celery can be found in Asian markets under the name kun choi or kin tsai. When you find it, buy it in quantity, wash it, coarsely chop it and keep it in zipper-lock bags in the freezer to use as needed. You can also easily grow your own in the garden or in pots (for seeds, see Sources).

This recipe comes from Cyprus, and you can serve it accompanied with smoked fish or meats or simply with a bowl of Greek olives, as is the custom in Greece during the days of Lent.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight in water and drained
  • 2 onions, halved, one half thinly sliced in half-moons
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped wild celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method

In a large pot, place the beans and the 3 onion halves and add water to cover by 4 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Add the sliced onion, celery and salt and simmer for 20 to 40 minutes more, adding a little more water if needed, until tender.

Add the lemon juice and black pepper to taste and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until the beans are just covered with broth. Transfer 1 cup of the soup to a blender (avoiding the onion half) and puree. Return the puree to the pot and cook for 2 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and discard the onion halves. Stir in the oil and sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes, if desired. Taste and adjust the seasonings, sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.

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