This brothy soup hails from the sunny, tiny and WARM Aegean island of Sifnos. (While the rest of us are shivering, it had a high of 60 degrees today.) Located southeast of Athens, Sifnos is known for its white-washed buildings which hang off rocky mountainsides, an abundance of blue-domed churches and earthenware pottery. And also chickpeas. In fact, the island’s most famous dishes, revithada and mastello, call for simmering either chickpeas or lamb in earthenware pots for hours and hours in a wood stove.
At Cookbook Club everybody loved this chickpea soup because of its fragrant, rich broth. Nancy actually made it the traditional way: in a clay pot, sealed with dough and baked overnight.
Not having any earthenware in my kitchen, much less the patience to make homemade dough, I used an ovenproof metal pot and aluminum foil to seal in this recipe’s flavors of rosemary, honey and orange. (Psssst…Don’t you dare tell anyone from Sifnos, but it turned out as delicious as Nancy’s.)
And even though we haven’t tried it, we bet it would be just as good substituting pinto beans for chick peas and/or cooking it in a crockpot.
- One pound dried chickpeas, picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight (Or you may place the beans in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. After boiling for a couple of minutes, turn off the heat and let the beans soak for an hour before draining.)
- 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 9 garlic cloves, crushed
- Juice of 1 orange, strained
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 46 ounces low-sodium chicken broth, more or less
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Aluminum foil for sealing the pot
- Put the chickpeas in a large ovenproof pot which has a well-fitting lid.
- Add the onions, rosemary sprigs, orange juice, honey, vinegar, tomatoes and olive oil,1 tablespoon salt and enough broth to cover by 3 inches. (Not enough broth? Supplement it with water.)
- Using long strips of aluminum foil, seal the lid so that as little steam as possible will escape.
- Put the pot into a cold oven and heat to 275 degrees.
- Bake the chickpeas for 8 hours. (About halfway through you can check that the liquid hasn't evaporated too much.)
- After 8 hours, take the pot out of the oven, remove the woody stems of the rosemary, season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.