Recipe update: This recipe was originally posted in October 2008. Earlier that year when in Greece I had visited the island of Sifnos, on the southwest part of the Cyclades islands. Like in my other updated posts, I’ve given you better photos to tempt you to try the recipe. I’ve also tweaked this recipe by foregoing canned chickpeas and using dry chickpeas that have been soaked overnight and then slowly simmered until the chickpeas are soft and soup, thick.
Whether making a hummus or this soup, try the slow food method – it’s not hard! A bowl full of dry chickpeas, some baking soda and enough water to cover them and when you wake up the next morning, the chickpeas are re-hydrated and ready for cooking.
The final tweak to this recipe was the garnish – this easy, delicious and chi-chi-frou-frou Shrimp and Garlic Bread. I’ve served this as an h’ors oeuvres and as a garnish with this soup – in both cases it was well received. The recipe is easy: raw shrimp, scallions, garlic, Feta cheese, grated tomato paste and herbs are whipped in a food processor then smeared on your thin slices of bread and then baked until crusty and slightly golden on top.
Ahhh, the things I do for those who follow my blog. One of my food quirks is that by & large, I eat salads in the summer, soups in the winter.
Oh, there are always exceptions like the odd, cold summer day or a cold soup but a hot soup in Greece with the blazing 35C heat? Yes, I ate soup.
It wasn’t just any soup but the very well-known and traditional chickpea soup of Sifnos. My last day on Sifnos was a Sunday and it would be my last and only chance to eat the real deal.
Yes, I could have eaten the soup on any other day but the Sunday soup would be special. You see, the bakeries do run on Sundays here and for many people on the island, the tradition of sending your pot of soup to the bakery to be cooked still exists.
This tradition was a necessity for many homes in the villages across Greece where they were old and not equipped to host an oven. Necessity led to resourcefulness and tradition whereby the lady of the house would take the family’s meal to the local bakery for cooking.
In Sifnos, surely there are many varieties of soups, depending on that family’s tastes (or rather the man of house’s tastes).
Each “noikokyra” (housewife) prepares the soup in a large earthenware pot and lugs the contents down to the bakery on a Saturday evening.
The chickpea soup simmers all night at the bakery until it becomes lunch time, Sunday afternoon.
I am so glad that blogging has prodded me to try ingredients I once thought I did not like. Such was the case with chickpeas. I can’t say they are my favourite ingredient but I find myself increasing my use of them each year.
They are healthy, cheap and I find quite delicious. Speaking of delicious…this chickpea soup will surprise you with it’s aroma and fabulous flavour.
There are alot of onions in this soup and the tag-along veggies of celery and carrot round out the flavours. Add a slow simmer, some good stock, a pinch of fresh ground cumin and a squeeze of lemon and you have a soup that eats like a meal.
Chickpea Soup From Sifnos (Ρεβιθάδα Σιφνέικη)
2 cups of dry chick peas
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
wedge of lemon and dried Greek oregano for garnish
- The night before, place your dried chickpeas in a bowl with the baking soda and enough water to cover the chickpeas by about 2 inches. The next morning, strain and rinse your chickpeas and reserve.
- Into a large pot, add your olive oil over medium heat and throw in your onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, thyme and paprika and parsley and simmer on medium low for about 15 minutes for the vegetables to soften.
- Now add your chickpeas, parsley, stock and slices of lemon bring to a boil and simmer medium-low heat with the lid slightly ajar for 2-3 hours or until thick the chickpeas are fork-tender.. By this time you should have a thick, chunky chick pea soup with some liquid still evident.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, serve in bowls. Add some dried Greek oregano and serve with a wedge of lemon. Top with a Shrimp and Garlic Toast.
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