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Italian Chickpea Soup

December 24, 2014

This is the first recipe I tried from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and I’m sure I’ll be making this over and over.  It’s a recipe to make over several days (ideally), but the first part can be done well in advance.  After making the chickpea soup, you can make variations by adding arborio rice or pasta and cooking a little longer. I tried it all three ways (even with the homemade maltagliatti pasta), but the rice version is definitely my favorite. The leftovers aren’t exactly soup anymore since it becomes thick enough to eat off a plate with a fork, but the flavors are as good, if not better, than when it’s soupy.

chickpea soup

Start by making the basic tomato and chickpea soup:

1/3 cup olive oil (or garlic flavored olive oil and skip the garlic step)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

sprig of fresh rosemary (or 1 1/2 tsp dried, crushed fine almost to a powder)

2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice

2 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas (from a can and drained, or try cooking chickpeas in a slow cooker)

1 cup broth (I used homemade turkey broth)

salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic cloves until they are colored a light brown, then remove from the pan. Add the rosemary and stir it for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes and their juice. Cook for about 20 to 25 min., or until the oil floats free from the tomatoes. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 min., stirring well. Add the broth, cover the pot and cook at a moderate boil for 15 min.  If serving the soup now, taste for salt and add some fresh ground pepper and let it boil for another minute.

If you are adding the rice or pasta, or just making the soup in advance (it can be kept in the fridge for a week), don’t add the salt yet.

To make the rice version, you’ll need the preceding soup plus:

3 cups broth

1 cup Arborio rice

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Remove 1/4 cup of the chickpeas and purée the rest through the large holes of a food mill. Add the reserved chickpeas and the broth and bring to a steady, moderate boil. Add the rice, stir and cover, keeping the soup at a boil over low heat (if it’s too hot, the rice may stick to the bottom of the pot and burn). After 10 – 12 minutes, check to see if more broth or water is needed. When the rice is done, swirl in the olive oil and taste for salt. Let the soup settle a couple of minutes before serving.

chickpea soup with rice

leftover chickpeas and rice

Leftover chickpeas and rice — still delicious.

The pasta version is very similar, but uses 2 cups broth and about 1/2 lb. small macaroni or homemade maltagliati pasta. Instead of adding olive oil at the end, add 1 Tbsp butter and a bit of parmesan cheese.

(Recipes adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan)

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