Greek Garbanzo Bean Soup (Revithia)

There are three Greek dishes that stand out in my mind as having a richness of flavor you’d not expect from the simplicity and humbleness of their ingredients, not to mention their ease of preparation. They are: Greek Lentil Soup, Greek Cabbage Salad, and today’s recipe for Greek Garbanzo Bean Soup.

Ingredients for garbanzo bean soup.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dry garbazo beans (approximately 1 cup)
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crumbled dry oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1TB flour
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TB)
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the Garbanzos for Cooking

Rinse and drain the beans. Pick through them a bit to check for rocks and other debris.
Rinsed and drained garbanzo beans.

If you can plan ahead, you should soak the beans overnight to shorten the cooking time. I usually put them in the soaking water before I go to bed, then I cook them the next day around suppertiime. I guess that’s more than overnight. Anyway, they still take one to one-and-a-half hours to get nice and soft.

Drain them when you’re ready to cook. The garbanzos will just about double in size with a long soak.

They've almost double in size during their soak.

You don’t have to soak the beans overnight, even just a couple of hours will help them cook up a little faster. In fact, you don’t have to soak them at all, sometimes I don’t. In that case I allow about two-and-a-half hours of cooking time.

Cooking It!

Dump the beans, chopped onion, oregano, salt and pepper in a pot. Add 8 cups of water if you’ve soaked the beans overnight, 10 cups if you haven’t.

(Here I’m using my Tramontina Sterling II Dutch Oven 4.75-qt., one of my two main go-to pots.)

Garbanzo soup ingredients in pot.

Boil until the beans are soft. This will take anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours for well-soaked beans, and over 2 hours for unsoaked beans. The cooking time will vary with the age of the beans, so you’ll just have to check them occasionally until they’re done to your liking. Garbanzo beans don’t fall apart even with extra cooking, so there’s really no worry about cooking them too long. Add water if necessary to keep the dish soupy. It is soup, after all!

We’re almost done, but we need to add two finishing touches.

First, we give the soup more body by slightly thickening the liquid. Here’s how: Put 1 TB flour in a cup or bowl and whisk in a small amount of water.
Whisk a little water into 1 TB flour.
Whisk in a little more water, then a little more, then a little more, until you’ve whisked in about a cup of water. In the picture below, I’ve switched over to using a fork because my whisk was too big to get into the corners of the cup I was using.

Keep whisking in small amounts of water.
Stir the flour-and-water into the soup pot and keep boiling for about 5 more minutes to remove the raw flour taste. By the way, I’m really bad at making this flour and water slurry; mine always has lumps, no matter how slowly I add the water. Good news though, in this recipe it doesn’t matter! The lumps dissolve in the soup! Yay!

The second finishing touch is a flavor addition that is very simple but totally transforms the soup: Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. That’s it! You’re done!

Serve with bread and olives on the side.

Revithia soup served with bread and olives.

This is my entry for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Gay at A Scientist In The Kitchen.

30 Comments »

  1. Comment by Cheryl

    Less is always more, isn’t it? Great recipe.

  2. Comment by lulu

    Cheryl, that’s exactly how it strikes me too.

  3. Comment by Sam Sotiropoulos

    I make revithosoupa at least twice a month! I simply love chickpeas. A healthy and easy to make dish, bravo Lulu.

  4. Comment by lulu

    Hi Sam, I usually make a pretty big batch and freeze leftovers.

  5. Comment by maria verivaki

    good idea to freeze leftover cooked chickpeas - they are such a nuisance to cook, so a little goes a long way.
    i liked your comment that food doesnt have to be organic, as long as it’s healthy - thanks for checking the link again

  6. Comment by lulu

    My pleasure, Maria, I always enjoy reading your posts. And I usually read them more than once because always contain such a wealth of information.

  7. Comment by Ivy

    This is probably one of very few Greek foods I do not cook as I love hummous so much that in Cyprus we make it as a soup.

  8. Comment by lulu

    Hummus soup! Sounds good! I’m heading over to Kopiaste to look for your recipe, Ivy.

  9. Comment by Gay

    I’ve been wanting to cook some garbanzos, these seem like a must-try.

  10. Comment by lulu

    Hi Gay! They’re worth it, and so little effort.

  11. Comment by ivy

    Lulu I giving you the link as I have it written as houmous: Have a nice weekend.

    http://kopiaste.blogspot.com/2007/11/houmous-or-hummus-chick-peas-soup_15.html

  12. Comment by lulu

    Thanks, Ivy, it looks delicious!

  13. Comment by Laurie Constantino

    I love revithiasoupa - maybe I should say I love revithia pretty much any way anyhow (are you starting to see a pattern here? maybe I should just say I love to eat? but then I’d have to tell you about the meal we had out tonight that was nasty. so i only like good food - and this soup is). I usually puree chick pea soup (it was one of the first recipes I posted on my blog, I like it that much) so I think I better try it your way next time. It looks tasty.

  14. Comment by lulu

    That’s funny, Laurie, because I’ve been meaning to try a pureed revithia soup for a long time. I’ve only ever had it this way.

    You’ve got me curious about that nasty meal you had! :-P

  15. Pingback by A scientist in the kitchen » Blog Archive » Herbs and more herbs… Weekend Herb Blogging # 133 Round-up

    [...] Mama’s Taverna, here’s Garbanzo Bean Soup - get the step by step recipe to enjoy one of the dishes that exemplify Greek [...]

  16. Comment by Simona

    This sounds delicious. Garbanzo beans are so good!

  17. Comment by lulu

    I agree, Simona! And now that you’ve got me thinking about purslane/glystritha, maybe I’ll try them as a side dish with this next time.

  18. Comment by Kalyn

    Sounds wonderful! Saving this recipe for winter.

  19. Comment by lulu

    That’s high praise, Kalyn!

  20. Comment by lan

    I just returned from Paros and the recipes there call for cooking the beans in oven overnight, also sealing the pot tight.

  21. Comment by Lulu

    Hi, Ian! I’m sure most legumes were traditionally cooked as you suggest. For example, while Mama cooks fava on the stovetop, she always says that it was tradionally cooked in a clay pot in the fireplace. I wonder if a slow cooker would be the closest equivalent these days?

  22. Comment by Kalyn

    Well it’s not winter yet (thank goodness) but I’m cooking things to freeze for lunches for school and I’m making this today. Really looking forward to trying it. I’m thinking I’ll puree but leave some whole beans too, kind of a combo of your version and Lauries.

  23. Comment by Lulu

    I bet that’ll be really good, Kalyn. I’ve actually been meaning to try Laurie’s recipe. Probably when autumn hits.

  24. Comment by vivian

    if you don’t want the flour to lump up, take some of the hot soup from the pot and stir into the cup with flour mix (fill slowly to the rim and then pour back into the soup slowly while stirring). that will make the mix blend into the hot soup. I bet it won’t lump up that way… good luck

  25. Comment by vivian

    try adding two bay leafs

  26. Comment by Jess

    Yes, the flour/water thing is always difficult to get smooth. That is unless you blend it. I’ve found that small jars fit my blender bottom perfectly. I just add water, add the flour, assemble, and blend. Perfectly smooth every time…

  27. Comment by Doris

    My firt try at Garbanzo bean soup thanks for all your tips. I cant waite to try it. Does anyone ever try sausages in it? Like Brawtwerst (I know not Greek or vegiterian) I don’t mean to offend anyone. It sure takes a lot of water I almost burnt them, but caught them in the nick of time, they just started to sizzle.

  28. Comment by Rikki

    Some cummin and ground coriander can make quite a difference. Maybe you might like to try it.
    I love Chickpeas/Garbanzo/Cece beans but I’m very lazy so I buy several cartons of them from the local store. I use them in salads, stews/casseroles, dips and as nibble food.

  29. Comment by Andreas

    MY mother used to make it every Monday
    She used to mix it with rice.

  30. Comment by Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D

    I realize I’m reading this years later - but I’ll comment anyway. This recipe looks so simple - and delicious. We’ll just might be trying it tonight! (I need to see if I can find dry garbonzo beans. I’ve only seen canned. But, I’ve honestly never looked for dry.)

    Thanks for sharing your recipe!
    ~ Dana

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