By the title, this soup might seem deceptively plain. Another chickpea soup recipe. Womp womp.
However, I’m here today to tell you this is NOT just “another” chickpea soup recipe. This soup is special. I’m convinced it has magic powers, actually. The simple ingredients (that most likely already have in your pantry) combine to create something utterly mouth watering and delicious. And, please. I don’t know if I’ve ever called a chickpea dish mouth watering, but it rings true here.
Since I found the original recipe in a Nigella Lawson cookbook (she claims to have gotten it from another traditional Italian cookbook), I’ve been making it practically once a week. We celebrate “Meatless Mondays” around here, have for a few months now, and this soup has been on the weekly rotation for awhile now. I know I should branch out, that there are many more vegetarian recipes begging to be cooked, but this is just so good.
Not only do I love it, but my husband and baby also love it! The first few times I made this, when Grayson was a little younger, I would puree the leftovers and stuff baby food pouches full for the little guy. He ADORED it and always had a huge smile on his face when I fed it to him. Nowadays, I don’t puree anymore since the pasta and chickpeas are so soft. I drizzle his with olive oil, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and he’s set.
Usually I make my own broth but I’ve just been so busy lately I haven’t had a chance. You’ll need a quart and a half of the best chicken broth, veggie stock or beef broth you can get your hands on. In a pinch, water works fine.
Now, the really special thing is the preparation of the chickpeas. Please…don’t even bother making this soup if you used canned chickpeas. Just don’t. Make channa masala or something else delicious and save this for when you have dried chickpeas and some time on your hands. Chickpeas need a heck of a long time to cook, so plan on simmering this soup for a good two hours. The great thing, though, is that it can be made in advance (up to the point of adding the pasta) and tastes even better the next day! I know the soaking overnight (don’t try a quick soak for this one) and long cooking time might sound tedious, but I promise you it’s worth it. These chickpeas literally melt in your mouth.
You’ll need lots of fresh rosemary and garlic here! Four big fat cloves, to be exact. I love how such simple homey ingredients can produce such a fabulous dish in the end.
And so you don’t end up with rosemary needles floating in your soup, it’s best to tie up the rosemary either in cheesecloth or use a jelly bag like the above photo. I get my jelly bags at the local hardware store to assist in my canning projects, and I’ve seen cheesecloth at every grocery store I’ve been to.
Serve bowls with extra olive oil and Parmesan cheese! The first few times I made this, I used whole tomatoes that I had canned myself last summer and the results were sublime. I’m out of canned tomatoes now (huge sigh) so the kind from the grocery store does just fine.
Chickpea and Pasta Soup
adapted from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp salt
1.5 quarts chicken broth, vegetable stock, beef broth or water
2 rosemary sprigs
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with a knife
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup ditalini pasta
fresh chopped parsley for serving
additional olive oil for serving
Parmesan cheese for serving
Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover generously with cold water. Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl and drizzle in just enough water to make a runny paste. Pour this mixture into the chickpeas and water. Mix together, cover with plastic wrap and set to soak overnight or 24 hours.
The next day, drain the chickpeas and rinse them well. Place the chickpeas in a large pot and add the stock, garlic cloves and two tablespoons of olive oil. Tie up the rosemary sprigs in cheesecloth or (like I do) put them in a jelly bag (available at hardware stores, amazon or some grocery stores) and loop the sides of the bag through the pot handles so it doesn’t all fall in. You’re going for lots of rosemary flavor here without all the piny needles floating in the soup.
Cover the pot tightly and bring to a boil. Listen for a boil rather than opening the pot. When you’re pretty sure you hear it boiling, turn the heat down very low. Don’t open the pot. Simmer at a very low temperature for 1.5-2 hours.
After two hours, you may open the pot and try a chickpea. They literally should be so soft that they melt in your mouth. If they don’t melt in your mouth, continue simmering for another 30 minutes or so. Remove the rosemary and the garlic cloves.
Blend the whole peeled tomatoes to a smooth puree. Add this to the soup and stir. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, you may take the soup off the stove and store it in the fridge for up to three days before eating. If you plan to eat right away (or that evening), bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes until al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta! 🙂
Stir in remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and add more salt if needed. Ladle into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
total time – 24 hours
active time – 3 hours