There’s something about holding a warm mug that is so pleasurable as the weather gets cooler. Even in the summer, I always crave hot liquids – coffee in the morning, tea in the evening, lemon water after meals, turmeric and honey almond milk before bed. This soup is amazing and hits the spot – rain or shine. Its rich Italian flavors means it’s versatile for any season – but most especially when all you want is a steaming bowl of soup.
This soup is called Pasta e Ceci, a cousin to the more common Pasta e Fagioli that is usually made with cannellini beans. It is so simple in terms of ingredients and methods.
The trick here is to let it cook low and slow to release all the flavors. Use the sweating technique, rather than sauteing to bring out the pure flavors of the onions, tomatoes, and herbs.
I guarantee you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to make and and how deep the flavors are!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 small sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 plum or roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained OR 1 1/2 cup fresh cooked chickpeas
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth*
- 1/2 cup ditalini OR 1 cup penne**
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced into ribbons (chiffonade)
- Heat oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, salt, and rosemary sprigs,and sweat for several minutes, until the onions are translucent and the rosemary fragrant.
- Add the garlic, stir, and sweat for a couple more minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, stir thoroughly to evenly coat onions with the paste. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook down, stirring occasionally until completely softened and the oil separates from the tomatoes - about 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig.
- Add the chickpeas and turn up the heat. Stir to coat the chickpeas in the mixture and turn up the heat to medium high. Toast the chickpeas so they get some color from the oil and high heat.
- Once toasted, mash half the chickpeas against the side of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon. (The starches released will thicken the broth.)
- Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Remember the pasta will soften as it sits in the hot broth, even after being removed from the heat.
- Check for seasoning, adding salt as needed, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using).
- Remove from heat and serve piping hot with fresh basil and crusty bread.
- *I love Not Chick'n Bouillon cubes.
- **Using a high-quality laminated pasta (I used a rough textured penne made from bronze plates - read your pasta box labels to know how they're made) and cooking it in the broth rather than a separate pot yields two results: one, the pasta absorbs the flavorful liquid and is infused with the flavor of the broth, and two, the starches released from the pasta (and chickpeas) thickens the broth further.