Read an Excerpt
Pasta and Chick Pea Soup
Pasta e Ceci
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
The Italians are great soup eaters, and one of the truly classic trattoria soups is this simple blend of chick peas also known as garbanzo beans simmered in an aromatic broth, punctuated by bits of pasta, and seasoned at table with best-quality olive oil. The soup should be thick and porridge-like, almost thick enough to hold a spoon upright! Since it's so rich, serve it in small portions, accompanied, at most, by a green salad or simple grilled poultry or fish. It's also a great treat when preceded by a platter of raw vegetables dipped in olive oil, just as I sampled one spring evening at Trattoria Omero, a lively spot with a marvelous view of the hills of Florence. Some foods are simply an excuse for eating something else, and I often think of this golden, harvest-like soup as an excuse for garlic and oil, two favorite foods that always put me in a happy frame of mind.Ingredients:
3 cups (1 pound; 500 g) dried chick peas (garbanzo beans)Instructions:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
4 plump fresh garlic cloves, crushed
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, sprigs of sage, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine
2 to 3 quarts (2 to 3 l) cold water
Fine sea salt to taste
1/2cup (3 ounces; 90 g) tiny dried Italian pasta, such as ditalini, broken spaghetti, or tiny elbow macaroni
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the table
- Rinse and drain the chick peas, pickingthem over to remove any pebbles. Place the chick peas in a large bowl, add boiling water to cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the chick peas, discarding the water. Set aside.
- In a 6-quart (6-1) heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine the olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and the herb bundle, and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chick peas, stir to coat with oil, and cook for 1 minute more. Add 2 quarts (2 l) water and stir. Cover, bring to a simmer over moderate heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Add the salt and continue simmering until the chick peas are tender, about 1 hour more, stirring from time to time to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the stockpot. Add additional water if the soup becomes too thick. (Cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the chick peas.)
- Remove and discard the herb bundle. Using an immersion mixer, roughly purée the soup directly in the stockpot. (Alternatively, pass the soup through the coarse blade of a food mill or purée in batches in a food processor, and return it to the stockpot.) The soup should have a creamy, but not totally smooth, consistency. It should be very thick, almost porridge-like. Season with salt to taste. Add the pasta, stir, and cook just until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently to keep the pasta from sticking. Taste for seasoning.
- To serve, ladle the soup piping hot into warmed shallow soup bowls. Pass a cruet of extra-virgin olive oil, drizzling a swirl of oil directly into each bowl of soup. (The soup, of course, may be reheated several times over a period of several days. If it thickens, simply thin with water each time you reheat the soup.)
Patricia Wells' Trattoria. Copyright © by Patricia Wells. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.