Italian Octopus and Chick Pea Soup!
There are several regional variation of octopus and chickpea soup in Italy. This is my favorite version.
The chick peas are flavored with bay leaves and rosemary, before being pureed. The octopus is blanched in hot water and then sauteed and simmered with garlic, pancetta and mirepoix vegetables. A few Italian herbs are added when the soup simmers.
Octopus should only be blanched till it becomes tender and not rubbery. After the octopus is sliced, it is briefly sauteed, then simmered for a long period of time. Both octopus and squid are tender when quickly cooked. If cooked for more than a few minutes, octopus becomes tough and rubbery. The octopus will not become tender again, unless it is simmered or stewed for at least 35 minutes.
Cooked dried chickpeas or canned chickpeas can be used for this recipe.
Cut the head and beak off of a medium size octopus. (About 12 ounces to 16 ounces.)Cut the octopus, so there is a ring of legs with a hole in the middle where the head used to be. (Save the head for another recipe.)
Place enough water in a sauce pot to cover the octopus.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
Add a few pinches of sea salt.
Add 1 tablespoon squeeze of lemon juice.
Place the octopus in the boiling water.
After a minute or two, the octopus will become fully cooked and tender.
Cool the octopus under cold running water.
Thin slice 1/3 cup of the octopus legs.
Cut off 1 long tentacle and add it to the sliced octopus.
Set the sliced octopus in a refrigerator, till later in the recipe. (Save the extra octopus legs for another recipe.)
Zuppa di Polpi e Ceci:
This recipe makes 1 serving of soup!
Place 1 cup of rinsed cooked chickpeas or rinsed canned chickpeas in a sauce pot.
Add 2 cups of light vegetable broth.
Add 1 cup of water.
Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Add 3 pinches of rosemary leaves.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 bay leaves.
Simmer the chickpeas, till they become very tender.
Remove 1/4 cup of whole chickpeas and set them aside in a bowl.
Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
Press the chick peas through the fine mesh strainer into the broth. (Passata)
Return the whole chickpeas to the chickpea puree soup.
Heat a large saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped pancetta.
Add 1 tablespoon each of:
- finely chopped carrot
- finely chopped celery
- finely chopped onion
Saute till the vegetables become tender.
Add 1 pinch of crushed red pepper.
Add the reserved sliced octopus.
Add 2 pinches of oregano.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Saute the octopus for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of peeled seeded chopped fresh plum tomato.
Add 8 to 10 whole basil leaves.
Saute till the tomatoes become tender.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
Simmer for one minute.
Add the bowl of chickpeas and chickpea puree broth to the pan.
When the soup starts to simmer, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
Gently simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes. Add water if necessary. The soup broth should have a rich medium thin puree consistency.
Ladle the soup into a bowl.
Try to place the octopus leg piece and a few chickpeas on the surface of the soup where they can be seen.
Garnish the soup with Italian parsley sprigs.
Drizzle a few drops of virgin olive oil on the surface of the soup.
The chickpea broth combines with the garlic, vegetable and pancetta flavors to create a very nice tasting soup. The octopus takes on the flavors of the broth. After simmering, the octopus becomes tender once again. The rosemary and bay leaf flavors can be tasted, even though they were removed when the chickpeas were pureed. The tomato, lemon, wine and basil rounds out the flavor of this fine Italian soup. So tasty! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna