Chickpea soup to fuel your Olympic fire
There are only a handful of days left before the XXII Winter Olympics come to a close in Sochi, Russia, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be experiencing Olympic withdrawal come Monday morning.
We love everything about the Olympics and what they represent, from the camaraderie among the athletes, to the personal stories of triumph over adversity, and even Team USA’s sweaters at the Opening Ceremony.
When we were planning our topic for this week, we were watching the Russians dominate in pairs figure skating and decided to take inspiration from the Olympics. Unfortunately, neither Tony nor I have any Russian recipes in our repertoire (yet), so in honor of the Olympic tradition, we’re going back to the country that started it all with Tony’s recipe for Greek Chickpea Soup.
This soup, known as revithosoupa in Greece, is a staple in Greek cuisine, with many variations depending on which region you visit. Tony’s version is a simple puree full of earthy goodness and nutritional benefits. For this recipe, Tony uses canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), but you can also use the dried variety. If you do, be sure to soak them in water overnight in the refrigerator to rehydrate the beans before using.
Chickpeas are packed with vital nutrients like fiber, protein and iron, which are helpful in boosting immunity and energy, making this the perfect soup for athletes and mid-winter Midwesterners alike.
Revithosoupa is hearty and delicious, with classic Greek flavors of lemon, chickpea and garlic that are sure to provide a much-needed dose of Mediterranean sunshine no matter where you are — even in sub-zero climates.
The chickpeas create a rich, buttery flavor that belies the healthy nature of this dish. In spite of its simplicity, the soup is wonderfully balanced, and the acid from the lemon juice brings a brightness that provides contrast to the creaminess of the chickpeas. Revithosoupa is thick and velvety in texture, with a finish that is similar to a black bean soup.
We love to enjoy this soup particularly at lunchtime, and often serve it with a pita sandwich or traditional Greek salad. I appreciate this recipe for its simple ingredients, easy preparation and affordability. After the past several indulgent recipes we’ve featured, revithosoupa is a great way to recalibrate our diets and get us back on track to healthy eating.
Because the ingredients for this soup will be pureed, the preparation is a quick and easy process. The onion and garlic can be roughly chopped, and there is no need to strain the soup before serving. If you use a handheld immersion blender, you can keep everything in one pot until serving, but a liquid blender or food processor will also do the trick. However, Tony hopes that by now you’ve made the leap and added his favorite culinary tool to your kitchen collection.
For garnish, Tony uses whole garbanzo beans and just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, but you could also use fresh herbs such as oregano and parsley, paprika or microgreens.
Regardless of which country you’re rooting for (we are partial to Team USA, Team Canada, Team Italy and Team Norway), we hope this soup will take you back to the origin of this grand sporting tradition and help fuel your Olympic fire.
Revithosoupa (Greek Chickpea Soup)
Serves: 4 to 6
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) extra virgin olive oil (for sauteing onion and garlic)
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (set aside one-half can for garnish)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 1/2 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 oz.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion and garlic in two tablespoons (1 oz.) of olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for one hour, uncovered. Add lemon juice and olive oil and puree with a handheld blender, liquid blender or food processor.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with whole chickpeas and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
To store: Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.