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A taste of Greece > A book and a recipe July 5, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Food Recipes.

In her book, “The Glorious Foods of Greece” (Morrow, $40), Diane Kochilas writes that clay-baked chickpea soup from Sifnos “is one of the simplest, most delicious dishes in all of Greece.”

Chickpea Soup from Sifnos Island

Since Kochilas’ recipe calls for a covered earthenware pot, I adapted it to the more common Dutch oven. I have found this to be a wonderful method for cooking not only chickpeas, but virtually any dried beans. It is particularly successful with small white beans such as cannellinis. When the beans are fully cooked, simmer off some of the liquid to make a bean stew to serve over rice.

1 pound dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Soak the beans overnight in ample water to which you have added the baking soda. (Alternately, heat the beans, baking soda and ample water in a large pot. When the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let chickpeas soak for at least an hour.) Drain, rinse and drain again.

2. Place the chickpeas, onions, olive oil, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven and cover everything by 3 1/2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chickpeas have softened slightly, 45 to 50 minutes.

3. Transfer the Dutch oven to a 350-degree oven and bake, covered, until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours, depending on the age of the chickpeas. The chickpeas should remain whole and not distintegrate, but the soup should be thick. While the chickpeas are baking, check the water content occasionally and add more water, if necessary, to keep everything from sticking. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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