This soup is another dish, common to all Greek homes. Growing up, this soup was on the table almost every week in Mr K's house, especially during Lent. When I first heard it pronounced "fah-KESS" I had to do a double take, as I thought Mr K was swearing! Little did I know, he was just taking about lentils. Although, I have to admit - while I've been working hard to learn more of the Greek language, this word still makes me giggle.
I absolutely loved this soup when Mrs K first made it for me to try. It is such a hearty and flavoursome dish, I didn't believe Ma when she said it just included the lentils, water and three things - onion, garlic and bay leaves. It has no meat or stock, yet you could be forgiven for thinking it did. The true flavour of the dish comes from the lentils and the aromatics of garlic, onion and bay leaves. It is just another fantastic example of how healthy traditional Greek home food is, and why the Mediterranean diet is so good.
Since first trying the dish at Mrs K's table, I've seen fakes soupa served in a number of different ways - depending on the Greek household and where in Greece the family comes from. Some have carrots, celery, cumin or chili added. While the ingredients may change, this dish is nearly always served with a splash or two of red wine vinegar. Olives, pickled peppers or vegetables are also often the usual accompaniments.
Traditionally, this soup is made with brown lentils and it can be made with or without fresh tomatoes, or a little Greek tomato paste being added. I add just a touch of the really lovely preservative free tomato paste from Santorini. It is really special and worth while seeking out.
Fakes Soupa (φακές σούπα)
* 500g small brown lentils, rinsed and soaked for about 2 hours
* 1.5 litres of water
* 1 medium red onion, very finely chopped
* 1/2 cup of olive oil
* 3 bay leaves
* 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
* sea salt
* freshly ground pepper
* red wine vinegar to serve
* 1 tsb of Greek tomato paste (optional)
Step 1. In a heavy pot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and gently fry the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the lentils and water.
Step 2. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and add the remaining oil.
Step 3.Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until lentils are done.
Step 4. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaves, stir in salt and pepper.
Step 5. Serve with vinegar on the side, added to taste.