Most of the recipes we have shared thus far come from our childhood, but our parents’ cooking has evolved. As years rolled by they would introduce new meals into their repertoire and onto our family table. This chickpea soup for example, despite being a staple in many Greek homes, was not something that we had as little children. In fact, we think we were both teenagers when our parents first served us a bowlful of this delicious meal. This led to a pretty significant “Huh?!” moment.
You see, before this soup, we never knew that chickpeas existed. It’s true! Our only exposure to chickpeas was in the form of stragalia, dried chickpeas often served alongside nuts. These tiny morsels came either in white or a golden yellow colour, and were often put out when company came calling, and the adults were served some ouzo. Although we loved stragalia, and ate them by the handful, we never knew that they were a dried version of this thing called chickpea. And then, this soup came into our lives. Suspicious, we asked our parents what these round beans were, and whether or not they were gross. Worried that we would not eat our meal, our parents explained that these were revithia, and that we would surely love them, because we loved stragalia…which were dried revithia. Our minds were blown!
Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are legumes which are nutritional powerhouses; high in protein, folate, iron and fiber, they are a filling and inexpensive way to pack in the good stuff. Although we like to cook with dried beans whenever possible (and encourage you to do the same), you can certainly substitute canned chickpeas in a pinch. If you do, the cooking time of course will be quite reduced, and the water called for in the recipe should be reduced by one cup.
The recipe below calls for the addition of freshly squeezed lemon juice after the soup has cooked. This amount of lemon juice give a mild, but noticeable citrus taste. You can absolutely add more lemon if you prefer; just remember that you can add, but you can’t take away. So, start with what we suggest, and go from there!
This is a fantastic vegan recipe, perfect for days that you want to abstain from meat and other animal products. It is therefore perfect for periods of fasting (provided that you are eating oil). Served with a nice hunk of bread, some olives and perhaps a maroulosalata, this is a complete meal that is simple, inexpensive and very satisfying.
Sometimes it’s great to be organized, and prepared. If you are going to make this soup, how about doubling the recipe? Have some for supper, and freeze the rest. This is a great soup to have on hand when there is no time to make dinner, or when you are too lazy to cook (come on…we can’t be the only ones who are sometimes too lazy to cook!). To serve, simply allow your soup to thaw in the fridge from the morning, and heat in a pot. Dinner is ready in about 10 minutes!
Mia Kouppa: Chickpea soup
- 2 cups (500 ml) dried chickpeas
- 1 medium carrot, cut into rounds (1 cup or 250 ml)
- 1 cup (250 ml) chopped leek (white part only)
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped (1/2 cup or 125 ml)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) fresh thyme
- 8 cups (2 L) water
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Rinse the chickpeas, and sort through them, removing any stones you may find.
- Soak your chickpeas in a large bowl of water for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
- After your chickpeas have soaked, rinse them well and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and leek for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for an additional 3 – 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the fresh thyme, bay leaf and the drained chickpeas and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium high. Cook covered for approximately 75 – 90 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Check the chickpeas for doneness; they should be soft, but not mushy.
- When the chickpeas are done to your liking, remove the soup from heat and stir the fresh lemon juice into your pot. Enjoy!