The Recipe

Bulgarian Bean Soup & Spanakopita
As taught to Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine, by Svetla Popova, from Kustenvil, Bulgaria, October 2009
Bean Soup

Svetla says, “Why do you have to put chicken stock in everything?” Good point.

1 1/2 cup dry beans (any kind you like, she used kidney)
1 stalk celery, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 carrots, cut into ½-thick rounds
½ green pepper, large dice
1 ½ Tbsp paprika
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped fresh spearmint
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 2 tsp salt
Generously cover beans with boiling water and let soak over night or at least a few hours before cooking. Strain beans, and put into pressure cooker or large pot* on high with 5 cups water, onion, carrot, green pepper, celery, and paprika. Once safety valve hisses, cook for 20 minutes. Then put whole pot in clean sink, run cool water over pot until it stops hissing, and open it up to add tomato and salt to taste. Simmer to incorporate, 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add fresh mint and garlic before serving.
*If you don’t have a pressure cooker, increase water to 6 c, cook beans for 1 hour total instead of twenty minutes; add veggies to beans and water after 30 minutes.
Bulgarian-American Spanakopita

Svetla says the filo available in the U.S. tastes like nothing. She prefers layering flour tortillas instead, which also happens to eliminate a lot of butter and fuss.
30 oz. blanched greens (she used frozen spinach and collards)
1 small onion, diced
12 9-inch flour tortillas (usually two packages)
16 oz feta, crumbled with a potato masher or fork
vegetable oil
16 oz plain yogurt
½ tsp baking soda
18 oz. water (a little more than yogurt)
1. In large pot thaw frozen blanched greens with diced onion. When soft, make an even layer in the bottom of the pot, and divide into 12 equal portions.Grease 3 9-inch cake pans with vegetable oil.
2. Put a cake pan on top of the tortilla on a cutting board, and trim around with a knife. Put the tortilla in the bottom of a cake pan. Spread one portion of the greens on it and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta. Make three layers total: tortilla-spinach-feta, tortilla-spinach-feta, tortilla-spinach-feta. Top with a forth tortilla and use your fingers to cover it with vegetable oil.
3. Preheat oven to 475. Make the other two pans of spanakopita. Cut each pan into 8 wedges. Mix yogurt, water, and baking soda and pour over all the three pans. Let yogurt into each wedge seam with a knife. Bake for thirty minutes, turning temp down at the end and/or covering tops with tinfoil. You want the top toasted and the liquid absorbed.
Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2009