Winters in Alaska are cold – very cold – but our houses are well-insulated and our clothing designed to protect us from the elements. I struggle with hot weather, but never with cold. After years in Alaska, I thought I understood cold weather and all its variations.
Then I spent a year in Greece.
The single coldest time in my life was when we lived in a two-story cement house near the beach on a tiny Greek island village. Our apartment had two uninsulated sliding glass doors facing the sea and a stone floor; whistling wind was our constant companion. For heat, we had only a small oil drip stove that barely kept its kitchen corner warm. At night, I used ten blankets and two hot water bottles to fight the bone-chilling cold. That winter I despaired of ever being warm.
To fight the cold, we ate soups and stews accompanied by homemade bread, and appreciated the extra heat from bubbling pot and baking oven. I frequently cooked with chickpeas and, during that winter, started making Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Rosemary. Since then, it’s remained one of my favorite recipes and I make it regularly.
When made with canned chickpeas, the soup takes about an hour to make. It tastes marginally better when made with dried chickpeas, and I make it that way when I have time. However, the soup is excellent when made with canned chickpeas, so I often don’t bother with the extra work that dried chickpeas entail.
To Peel or Not to Peel? Chickpeas don’t need to be peeled, and the soup will taste fine if you use unpeeled chickpeas. I prefer, however, the soup’s texture with peeled chickpeas. Made this way, the soup’s mouth-feel is smooth and surprisingly luxurious despite its humble ingredients. It takes about 20 minutes to peel the chickpeas. The task is not onerous so, if I have the time, I peel them.
Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Rosemary is a hearty winter dish that pairs well with a lettuce salad with lemon dressing, feta cheese, and Baked Kalamata Olives.