Serves 6 to 8
One of the old classic soups from home was made with ceci, or chickpeas. Jars of dried chickpeas were always in my grandmothers' pantries. I used to love watching these dried beans double in size after they had soaked in water. Canned chickpeas can be used in this recipe.
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup Ditalini or Elbow Macaroni
1/2 cup Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/ cup water
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups crushed fresh or canned plum tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put the dried chickpeas in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak overnight.
Drain the chickpeas, place them in a large pan, and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the chickpeas are just tender, about 35 minutes. They should retain their shape and not be mushy. Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the ditalini until al dente. Drain well, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the rosemary and garlic and sauté over medium heat, stirring until the garlic is soft and the rosemary is limp. Discard the rosemary sprigs. Lower the heat slightly and stir in the anchovy paste. Dissolve the tomato paste in the ¼ cup water and add with the chicken broth, tomatoes, and half the cooked chickpeas. Stir, bring to a boil, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the remaining chickpeas until smooth.
Stir the chickpea puree into the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked ditalini and simmer for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and pass extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle over the soup.
Note: This soup tastes even better the day after it is made. If it seems too thick, thin it slightly with a little chicken broth or water. Don't thin it too much — the beans and pasta make this a thick and satisfying soup.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1991.
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