Zuppa di Pasta e Ceci (Pasta and Chickpea Soup)

When our bodies are one degree warmer, they call out for something hot, soupy and comforting. It's automatic. Sometimes, it's the only food that's easy to take and digest.  Apart from less elaborate meals like simple salads or panini (sandwiches), bowls of hot soup have more prevalence on our bed trays. A bowl of this hot zuppa di pasta e ceci calls out to be enjoyed in the comfort of the bed and pillows propping me while I watch the latest news (Never mind that!  There's nothing great going on in Italy nor the Vatican right now.) and reading an e-book. My brain is already at the dangerous level of rustiness. It has been out of reading practice for so many years. It's so strange to be reading a sentence without any interruptions, a paragraph, then a page. There's silence.

I've been reading Life Well Blogged: No Laughing Allowed by Abbey Fatica & Monica Merrill Mylet.   It had been accompanying me to laughterdom the whole time I was in bed (Thank you Abbey for sending me a copy!).  Its rants of familiarity about motherhood and womanhood hit close to home and shook me to realization that hey, I am not alone in this world with my experiences, thoughts, angst, tiredness, etc., etc. and etc.

I fondly remember a moment during a little round of introductions the first time I met my photo club mates. Everyone had an interesting profession attached to their handshakes and names and when it was my turn, I shyly attached the line "Just a homemaker." to my name.  The oldest guy in the group spoke with me with earnest eyes. He told me one of the nicest things a homemaker would ever want to hear. Never use JUST because stay-at-home moms have one of the hardest jobs. There's no time schedule, it's 24/7 (I would even say 25/8), no possibilities of vacation or sick leaves and no pay. But you know what? We make up what our children remember of their childhood.  It's true isn't it?  Because my childhood memories have my Mom as the protagonist in almost every episode I kept in my mind.

This soup is something very common on Italian tables. This recipe is the one that my husband grew up with, which came from my mother-in-law and which my children also like. In this dish, I used dried chickpeas which required overnight soaking in water with bicarbonate. If you want a quicker recipe, just use the pre-cooked ones then lessen the boiling time by half. The best kind of pasta to use is maltagliati which is translated to badly cut.  They don't have a specific shape because they are actually the scraps left over from other pasta (like lasagna). But then there are the tagliatelle that you can just break into smaller pieces or ditalini which are perfect for soup dishes. 

Buon appetito!

Zuppa di Pasta e Ceci (Pasta and Chickpea Soup)

Serves 4
  • 200 grams dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 tablespoon bicarbonate (optional)
  • 2 liters water  
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped  
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 rosemary twig 
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved 
  • 200 grams tagliatelle, broken to short pieces (or maltagliati or ditalini)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. The night before, soak the chickpeas in water with 1/2 tablespoon bicarbonate. Leave overnight.
  2. The following day, drain the chickpeas in a colander then rinse under a running faucet.
  3. Transfer them to a large saucepan with about 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon parsley then let it boil. When it boils, put down the heat, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
  4. About 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, take a ladleful of chickpeas and put them in a blender then blend until smooth. Put the creamed chickpeas back in the saucepan.
  5. In a small saucepan with extra virgin olive oil and rosemary, sautรจ the garlic until they are golden brown. Discard the garlic. Pour the oil and rosemary in the soup. Add some salt.
  6. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, boil some water for the pasta. When it boils, add some salt. Add the pasta then cook following the number of minutes indicated in the package or until al dente.
  7. Add the cooked pasta in the soup.
  8. If you want it more watery, just add more water.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining parsley, salt and pepper then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.