Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zuppa di Ceci (Chickpea Soup)

Jan-Feb 2010 Italy 853-1After shoveling out from the blizzard here (well, I had some fun with my cat Rocky too as you can see), a little soul-warming soup was in order. And I knew just which soup to make. My friend Bianca served this soup to us our first night in Milan during our recent trip. I met Bianca on the subway there about six years ago –– really -– and we hit it off instantly. Before you knew it, we were invited to her home for dinner and talking about everything from politics to literature to family and travel. We don’t usually see each other more than once a year, but every time we visit with Bianca and her husband Valerio, it’s like being with friends you’ve known forever.

Bianca’s chickpea soup was the perfect antidote for my gluttonous three weeks in Italy. It’s a simple soup that’s also nutritious and low in calories – and delicious to boot. The photos here were taken in Bianca’s kitchen and I regret not taking a shot of the wonderful cheeses she served with it – everything from an aged parmigiano to a milky mozzarella and a creamy gorgonzola. I’m giving you her recipe for zuppa di ceci, but I added a parmesan cheese rind while the chickpeas cooked – something I always have in my freezer.

Jan-Feb 2010 Italy 024

Zuppa di Ceci (Chickpea Soup)

Printer friendly recipe here

For four people:
1 3/4 cups (400 grams) dried chick peas, soaked in about 6 cups water 
2/3 of a small sprig of rosemary, minced, plus more for decoration
2 cloves of garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Soak the chick peas in water for about 24 hours with a pinch of salt.

Cook them without salt for one hour in a pressure cooker, or two hours in a regular pot. (I added a parmesan rind to the pot)

Take out half of the chick peas and set aside. Puree the other half, then add the whole chickpeas to the pureed mixture.

Sauté the garlic and rosemary for a short time in a pan with the olive oil, until the garlic is barely golden. Add the garlic and rosemary to the cooked chick peas, cooking them together for a few minutes, to blend the flavors. Ladle in extra water to thin the soup to the density desired. Adjust seasonings, adding salt as required.

Optional: use vegetable broth instead of water to thin the soup.

Before serving, drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil and grind some fresh black pepper on top.  Add some hot red pepper flakes if you like more heat.

I used a really special olive oil from Casale Sonnino, my friend’s villa in the hills outside Rome. Claire and George are following in their mother Clo’s footsteps in maintaining the high quality of olive oil, made only from olives on their property and squeezed at a local mill. A new shipment has just arrived in the states. Call Claire at 516-767-7188 and she can ship it right to your home. The villa is also available as a vacation rental and sleeps up to 10 people.


  1. Ottima la zuppa; la foto del pupazzo con il micio è davvero simpatica.
    Ciao Daniela.

  2. Welcome back Linda! the soup looks delicious. By the way, your husbands tomatoes are awesome. I'm rationing:)

  3. Soup and bread looks fantastic in that weather!

  4. What a wonderful snow-cat! The snow was so deep in fact, we got an unprecedented two-day snow day here, which made my son very happy as you can imagine. Your soup sounds incredible and since I am an avid soup-maker, I know I will soon try it. Thanks for the tip to freeze parmesan rinds to use later. I love that the recipe is one born of friendship.

  5. I was so happy to see Rocky and the snow man! I forwarded it to all of my friends!
    We got 18" of white stuff last night, good day for ceci soup.

  6. The soup and that bowl of bread look amazing! I love bean soups - tasty, satisfying, and economical.

    Cute picture of Rocky with the snowcat!

  7. We always built snowcats with the kids over the years. Rocky must have been most pleased!
    Your soup is one of my favorites- but I never put rosemary in and I never had such a luscious bread basket next to it. It's warming just to look at it.

  8. I love chickpea soup, earthy, filling and it also reminds me of my visit to the Greek island of Sifnos...their specialty.

  9. Welcome back Linda...
    I love your snow Cat!
    We also dug out from 18 inches we received yesterday and two snow days from school...
    This soup looks wonderful...I will be trying it soon!

  10. Hi Linda,
    such a wonderful surprise to be in your post! Very proud...I don't know if I deserve it. Have for sure we share the same feeling about our friendship, since the chance encounter on the subway.
    Every thing has an agreeable taste when we meet you and Rich ( unfortunately for a too short time ): may be this is the reason way you did enjoy my Zuppa di ceci.
    Waiting for the next visit, un bacione
    Bianca & Valerio
    PS. Lot of compliments for the shot.

  11. What a great story about you and Bianca meeting on the subway, and still friends today, that's so awesome! That soup looks so creamy and inviting, I would grab a hunck of that bread and enjoy!

  12. Thats the cutest snowman I have ever seen! And...that soup looks really delicioso! Cheers!

  13. Fun snow kitty! Rocky approves!

    I often make chick pea soup or fava bean soup..both are my husband's favorites!

  14. I. Am. Making. This.
    Love that it is heart healthy!
    P.S. Adorable snowcat!