This recipe features alot of ancient Greek ingredients: chick peas…this was the starch of the day before potatoes and rice. Then we have shrimp – fish and seafood were prominent in the ancient Greek diet and they still are a big part of the diet in today’s Greece.
Oxymeli, a Greek compound word meaning “acid-honey” and this was used to season food in time when no sugar or citrus was to be found. I made my own version of Oxymeli by reducing Acropolis Organics’ Mousto Balsamico vinegar into a thick syrup. I simply drizzle this sweet and sour syrup as a garnish to the soup, offering another layer of flavour.
The shrimp are poached in a stock that’s perfumed and coloured by Greek saffron, currently cultivated in the Kozani region of northern Greece. Yep, another ancient ingredient!
This soup is easy to make and the main thing you have to remember is to soak the dry chick peas overnight in water (resist temptation to use canned chickpeas). The next day add a generous amount of Greek olive oil (boom! another ancient Greek ingredient) onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay, thyme, water, lemons and some paprika and simmer simmer simmer. The soup is ready when you’re able to mash a chickpea with the back of a spoon.
Cream of Chickpea Soup With Shrimp & Oxymeli
2 cups of dry chick peas
1/2 cup of extra-virgin 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
18 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined
pinch of saffron threads
pinch of Boukovo (chilli flakes)
- To make the Oxymeli, pour the Mousto-Balsamic in a small sauce pan and gently bring up to boil then simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and pour into a small squeeze bottle.
- To poach your shrimp, add about 2 cups of stock into a medium pot and add a pinch of saffron threads. Bring up to a gentle boil then turn off the heat and gently drop in your shrimp. Remove the shrimp once they have curled to form a C-shape and remove with slotted spoon. Reserve shrimp for plating and you may add the poaching liquid into the soup (optional).
- The night before, place your dried chickpeas in a bowl with 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, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaves, thyme and paprika 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. Remove the bay leaves, lemon slices and purée.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, add sliced scallions and serve in bowls topped with three poached shrimp and drizzled with Oxymeli. Optional, sprinkle some chili flakes for a little warm heat.
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