Three weeks ago, we started a gourmet journey through Greece, a very enjoyable trip! The carnivore that I am realized today, that for my 4 Greek recipes this month, I oscillated between vegetarian and vegan.
So what? This was not definitely not a punishment! Even the philosopher known for his work on attainment of happiness, Epicurus himself, was a vegetarian borderline vegan (he actually cheated and had cheese once in a while)! One aspect of his teaching is that the purpose of all our actions is to achieve pleasure.
And you should probably know by now that for me, soup = happiness and fun!
With the Siberian temperatures that we have experienced in Paris in the past recent days, it is one of the most popular Greek soups that I chose to prepare today: revithia soupa, i.e. chickpea soup.
Revithia soupa, like the fasolada I prepared a few months ago is a vegan soup which is enriched with olive oil during cooking but also at the table.
The Greeks eat chickpeas in all shapes and forms but it is in Sifnos (or Siphnos), a Greek island in the southwest of the Cyclades, that the original revithia soupa was born.
In Sifnos, it is called “the Sunday soup.” Indeed, it was originally prepared on Saturday night in the leftover heat from wood ovens in which people had cooked all day and that remained hot for many hours.
Note that the city of Sifnos is famous for its pottery industry. It’s not a coincidence then that pottery is one of the most important elements of this recipe!
On Friday evening, chickpeas were soaked in baking soda. On Saturday night, the ingredients were put in a clay pot called skepastaria or tsoukali. The revithia was then placed in the oven and was supposed to cook until most of the chickpeas disintegrated into tiny pieces, or turned to a velvety soup.
On Sunday, women would prepare lunch and the meal was ready right when back from the church. I admit that it reminded me of the famous dafina from my native Morocco which cooked for more than 24 hours.
Traditionally and even today in Sifnos, the water that is used to prepare this chickpea soup, whether for cooking or soaking the chickpeas, is actual rainwater stored in cisterns.
Revithia is traditionally enriched with avgolemono, the egg-lemon preparation that Mike told us about this week, but vegans and Greeks who observe the Orthodox fasts like Lent replace avgolemono with delbie, a mixture of flour and lemon juice, which thickens the soup and gives it a delicious tangy taste.
I chose the second version, which also reminded me once again of Moroccan harira, this soup I featured last year that is also prepared with chickpeas.
Choosing the right olive oil is very important as in all Greek recipes. It must be of excellent quality, extra virgin, fruity. For this recipe, I used an excellent olive oil from Montenegro, that a producer of organic oils gave me a few months ago, during my trip to Budva. It was incredibly fragrant!
I do not have a wood oven, a skepastaria or a tsoukali, let alone a tank filled with rainwater! So… I tried to be creative!
I prepared my revithia in a slow cooker with a clay container where I simmered it for six hours.
The result was just excellent! I loved this soup and my gut tells me that you are not surprised, are you?
- 2½ cup dry chickpeas
- 3 spring onions , finely chopped
- 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small bunch parsley , finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
Place the chickpeas in a large container and cover with twice their volume of boiling water. Add baking soda and mix well. Cover and soak for 10 hours.
Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and remove their skin. Drain and place the chickpeas in a slow cooker.
Add the spring onion, bay leaves, parsley, and olive oil. Cover with boiling water, about 4 inches above the chickpeas. Cover and simmer over low/medium heat for 6 hours.
An hour before the end of cooking, mix the flour with the lemon juice and stir the mixture in soup. Add salt and pepper.
Mix or mash with a potato masher.
Note: If you do not have a slow cooker, you can use a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven and cook over low/medium heat.