Recipe: Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

Pasta e cechi

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This recipe is adapted from Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver, Hyperion 2007.

It can be argued that this is both a soup and a pasta dish but I think it leans slightly more toward being a soup — so I've put it in this chapter! Its cousin, pasta e fagioli, is a thicker, redder bean soup, but I think that this simple, delicious dish, which uses chickpeas as its base, is what Italian food is all about…

Serves 4

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

A sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped

2 14-oz. cans of chickpeas

2 1/4 cups of chicken stock

3 1/2 oz. ditalini or other small Italian "soup" pasta

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional: a small handful of fresh basil or parsley, leaves picked and torn

Put the finely chopped onion, celery, and garlic into a saucepan with a little extra virgin olive oil and the rosemary and cook as gently as possible, with the lid on, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, without any color.

Drain your chickpeas well and rinse them in cold water, then add them to the pan and cover with the stock. Cook gently for half an hour and then, using a slotted spoon, remove half the chickpeas and put them to one side in a bowl.

Puree the soup in the pan using a handheld immersion blender. If you don't have one, you can whiz it up in a food processor instead, then pour it back into the pan. Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta, season the soup with salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender and the pasta is cooked.

At this point, if the soup is a little thick, pour in some boiling water from the kettle to thin it down, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve drizzled with good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Lovely sprinkled with some freshly torn basil or parsley. A real treat.

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