This soup traditionally calls for dried octopus, not the easiest thing to find either in America or in urban Greece, so I have reworked it a little for fresh octopus.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 medium fresh or frozen octopus (about 3 pounds), cleaned if necessary
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 medium yellow or red onions, halved and finely chopped
- 1 cup grated firm, ripe tomatoes or chopped canned plum tomatoes
- 1 to 2 fresh oregano sprigs, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup tiny pasta stars or pastina
- Aged myzithra cheese or any hard white cheese for grating
- Salt, as needed
1. Place the octopus in a large pot. Pour in 1?4 cup of the olive oil and 1?4 cup of the wine. Cover and cook over very low heat until the octopus has a deep pink color and is fairly tender, 25 to 30 minutes. The octopus will have exuded its own juices. Remove from the pot and cut into pieces small enough to manage with a soupspoon. Reserve the pot juices.
2. In another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and cook the onions over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the octopus pieces, the remaining 3/4 cup wine, and the tomatoes. Pour the reserved octopus juices into the pot together with about 8 cups of water. Add the oregano and season with pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add the pasta to the pot. Continue simmering until the pasta is tender. If the pasta makes the soup too thick, dilute it with a little more water. Remove from the heat and serve hot, with freshly grated cheese and black pepper on top.
NOTE: If using frozen octopus, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Because octopus is naturally salty, most dishes made with it rarely require additional salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.