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My Long-Planned Greek Chickpea Stew (Revithia)

Greek Chickpea Stew (Revithia- ρεβύθια)

This Greek Chickpea Stew (Revithia- ρεβύθια) is a long-planned post. Only it’s not coming to you the way I planned. Or when I planned it either. Not that I knew precisely when this signature soup from the island of Sifnos, Greece was destined to show up here. Though, as I said, it was destined.

You see I have this fantasy.

Suddenly, one day in the not too distant future, I will find myself free of all obligations. I realize I’m not alone in sharing this daydream. But that doesn’t make the dream any less real. In fact, I’ve been actively sorting my life out to make this dream inevitable.

The dream is not so much about having nothing to do. Though that’s a perfectly admirable dream. It’s not even about retiring per se. I’ve never been a traditional worker anyway. So I imagine I’ll continue with many of the same activities I enjoy and/or slog through now. It’s just that I won’t be tied down to one place or one kind of life.

The dream started with a simple little book The Greek House: The Story of a Painter’s Love Affair with the Island of Sifnos. It was reinforced by the Masterpiece Theater series The Durrells in Corfu, which led directly to the purchase of the book My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

All that reading, viewing, and daydreaming has led me to a specific plan for this freedom when it eventually comes.

I’d like to rent a house on the island of Sifnos, Greece. It will be a simple, traditional house. Rustic even. It won’t be a house for tourists. There won’t be a pool, and I don’t even care if it has hot water or not. However, it will have a sea view and a functional kitchen. I will stay in this house for at least three months and I will see how the people on the island live.

But lately dreams feel like an indulgence. Though they shouldn’t.

That’s because we’re in coronavirus lockdown (and I hope you are too). The dream and the travel post for Greek Chickpea Soup I’d long-planned both feel very far away. So I thought I’d try and nudge it towards reality with a little bit of gastronomic escapism. The state of the world may mean less doing – but it shouldn’t mean less dreaming.

Greek Chickpea Stew (Revithia)

Traditionally this is a Greek Sunday soup. It’s made in an earthenware pot whose lid is sealed with dough and placed on the dying embers of Saturday night’s fire. It sits and cooks in the low heat overnight and is ready to serve after church the next morning.

That’s the dream version! Today’s version is made on the stovetop and it’s much less rustic this way. Maybe someday on the island of Sifnos, I’ll attempt the more traditional version.

Until then I’m looking for recipes that can be made with pantry staples. Thanks to the coronavirus we in Los Angeles have been advised to stay home this week and maybe next. Even the grocery store is off-limits except in extreme need. Those are pretty strong words so it’s pantry staples and dreams of Greek islands for this household. GREG

Greek Chickpea Stew (Revithia- ρεβύθια)

Greek Revithia Stew (Chickpea Soup with Olive Oil)

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Use very good Greek olive oil.

Greek Revithia Stew (Chickpea Soup with Olive Oil)

Ingredients

  • 500 gram dried chickpeas
  • water (as needed)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • lemon wedges (for serving)

Directions

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover them by about an inch. Allow them to soak overnight.

When ready to cook drain and rinse the chickpeas then place them in a soup pot that has a lid. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and olive oil followed by enough fresh water to cover by about 2 inches. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and bay leaf.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat then lower the heat to very low. It should not bubble aggressively. The heat is correct when tiny, gentle bubbles appear. Use a simmer plate if you have one. Cover the pot and cook the mixture for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the chickpeas are cooked and very soft remove the lid and taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed and cook the stew uncovered for about one more hour. It should thicken somewhat and get a silky looking broth, but the beans should stay intact. Use your judgment as to when it looks done. Cooking times for dried beans can vary greatly.

Serve warm with lemon wedges on the side.