Zuppa di Ceci con Pasta


This soup is a meal all on it’s own, and was adapted from a recipe from the Molise region of Italy called Sagne e Cicerchie. It really is a unique version of “pasta e fagiole” if you look at the combination of dried legumes and pasta brought together in one bowl. I did indeed use dried cicerchie in my version, but dried ceci, or chickpeas as they are more commonly known, would work just as well. If you were feeling very motivated, you could make your own pasta from scratch, and I will include the recipe for doing so, but I simply bought fresh lasagna noodles from my local grocery store and cut them into the right sized pieces. Traditionally, the pasta used for this soup is made with flour and water but my lasagna noodles did contain eggs and the results were just as delicious. Since this recipe does indeed use dried beans you will need to plan to begin the soaking process the night before. I also used pancetta to flavor my soup, but you could also leave it out and create a very tasty vegetarian entree. Simply add some crusty Italian bread, a crisp green salad and you have a hearty, filling meal.

The Pasta Sheets Cut Into Strips

Cut The Strips Into Diagonal 2 Inch Pieces

The Finished Soup

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Zuppa di Ceci con Pasta

A traditional soup from the Molise region.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Pounds Dried Cenci (Chickpeas)
  • Pinch Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Pancetta, Cut Into Small Dice (Optional)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled, And Minced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Diced
  • 2 Carrots, Peeled And Diced
  • 1 Small Onion, Peeled And Diced
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 (14 ounce) Cans Chopped Tomatoes
  • Chicken Broth As Needed
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • Pinch Of Dried Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
  • 4 to 5 Sheets Fresh Pasta For Lasagna (See Recipe Below To Make Your Own Or Use Store Bought)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Fresh Pasta Sheets

To Serve:

  • Grated Pecorino Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the beans and then place in a large bowl, then cover with water and add a pinch of baking soda.
  2. Let sit for at least 12 hours, then drain.
  3. In a large pot add the beans and then cover with water by at least 4 inches.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, then decrease the heat to a medium low simmer and cook until tender, about 50 to 60 minutes.
  5. Drain well.
  6. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and cook the pancetta until no longer pink.
  7. Add the chopped celery, carrot, and onion and cook 3 or 4 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two.
  9. Return the beans to the pot and add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if using, and dried oregano.
  10. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low heat.
  11. Add enough of the broth to create a soup consistency, and cook for 10 minutes.
  12. Cut the lasagna sheets first into 1 1/2 inch long strips, then cut the strips into two inch long pieces on the diagonal.
  13. Add the cut pasta pieces to the soup along with the parsley and cook just until the pasta is “al dente“.
  14. If the soup seems too thick once the pasta starts cooking add a little additional broth.
  15. Spoon the soup into bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, then pass the bowl of grated Pecorino cheese at the table.