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Zuppa di Ceci - Chickpeas Soup Recipe

Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are very healthy and wonderful to prepare in many different ways. In Italian they are called ceci, and the classic way to eat them is in a zuppa o minestra (soup), or mixed with small size pasta and a drizzle of olive oil, as in pasta e ceci. My grandmother in the South of Italy used to cook them all morning in spring water, with just a stick of celery and a pinch of sea salt, in a terracotta pot called Pignata, covered and placed over the ambers of the fireplace. I will never forget the taste of those ceci we would have for lunch.

For my Zuppa di Ceci recipe, I use dry chickpeas, which I first soak in water overnight and then cook for a couple of hours with veggies and rosemary, for a wonderful and intense blend of flavors. If you want, you may use canned chickpeas (one and a half regular 15 ounces can), but make sure they are of the best quality and preferably organic.

Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):


  1. Soak the chickpeas in abundant cold water, for at least 12 hours. Drain.

  2. Chop the onion and the celery stick, not too fine. Cut the potato into dices, about inch thick.

  3. Place the chickpeas in a pot with the celery, onion, potato and rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper.

  4. Cover with 1 quarter/1 liter of warm water, or the same quantity of half water and half chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 2 hours. Check time to time and add more warm water as needed until cooked.

  5. If you are using canned chickpeas, add a couple of cups of water to their own liquid, a small pinch of salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer gently with the rest of the ingredients for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
    (Note: some canned beans may contain more liquid than others, as well as salt and seasoning; always taste them when open the can, and use your own judgment for the right quantity of water and salt and pepper to add.)

  6. Take the pot off the fire, discard the rosemary, retrieve the celery, potatoes onion and about if the chickpeas and mash in a vegetable press or blender.

  7. Return to the pot with the rest of the chickpeas, thus obtaining a fairly thick and creamy soup.

  8. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

  9. Serve warm -- or even cold -- with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, along with sliced and toasted sourdough or artisan bread.


Buon appetito!


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