rachel eats’ pasta e ceci

I wish I had more of this.  

I polished of the last of it for lunch a few hours ago, and I’m already wishing for a magical kitchen fairy to come and make me another pot.  We’ll see if John wants to play that role later. 

I discovered Rachel Eats, and hence this recipe, because of a cake.  A sticky ginger cake in Nigel Slater’s book Kitchen Diaries.  The cake has been taunting me for ages.  It’s a recipe in need of American translation.  And no, I don’t mean that I can’t operate in anything other than cups and teaspoons.  Trust me, I realize that the whole rest of the world measures things using these handy inventions know as scales.  I mean it calls for things like golden syrup, and stem ginger, and self-rising flour, none of which seems to be carried by your average American grocery store. 

But more on the cake later (it’s sitting on my table as I type), this post isn’t about sticky ginger cake (swoon), it’s about two very humble ingredients: chickpeas and pasta, which come together to make one of the most delicious rainy day meals I’ve ever eaten.  I stumbled upon this recipe while drooling over Rachel Eats, a beautiful Rome-based food site on which Mr. Slater’s ginger cake was featured.  This discovered caused me to immediately abandon my quest for homespun “stem ginger” recipes and instead reach for a large soup pot.  From cake to chickpeas, an unlikely transformation especially for one so sweets devoted.  Just take a look at the photos over here and you too will be dreaming in chickpeas.

The result of a few hours of simmering and a little sautéing was a warming and robust soup fragrant with rosemary and thick with flavor.  We scarffed a bowl each on the tail end of what can only be described as a grey, rainy, and horrible Monday.  I was in a bit of a funk which was only made worse by the blah weather and total darkness at 5:30 in the afternoon. (Thanks to the yearly joy that is Daylight Savings Time, a savior of daylight for only those who get up at the crack of dawn, and one giant depression for the rest of us.)  Pasta e Ceci, warm hug of meal that it is, pulled me straight out of the doldrums, or at least picked up where that bottle of wine left off.  Serves 4 as lunch or dinner.  We ate ours with a plate of simply roasted broccolini and a little toasted bread. 

Adapted from Rachel Eats

For the Soup

  • 250g, 1 heaping cup dried chickpeas, or 450g (1 lb) canned
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 500ml (g), 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water – use the water in which you cooked the chickpeas with more plain water to make up 500ml*
  • A small parmesan rind
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • 225g, about 2 ¼ cups dried pasta of your choice
  • More extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

*I used the chickpea water with some homemade chicken stock to make 500ml

If you’re using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in cold water.  Drain and cover the chickpeas with water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to boil and then simmer about 2 hours or until nicely tender. 

Boil a medium pot of salted water.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions – you want the pasta to retain a toothsome bite.  Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, set a large heavy bottomed pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil.  Sautee the carrot, celery, and onion until soft and aromatic – 5-10 minutes.  Keep the heat low; you want the vegetables to cook without browning. 

Add 2/3 of the chickpeas.

Add the tomato paste and the rosemary and stir to combine.

Add the stock or water and the parmesan rind.  Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Remove the rosemary and the parmesan rind.  Transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until broken down, but not completely smooth.  Alternatively, use a hand blender. 

Pour the soup back into the pan and season to taste with generous salt and pepper.  (The soup, with all that starch, will take a good amount of salt.)  You may need to thin it a bit with some more water or stock at this point (I did.)  Add the rest of the chickpeas and the cooked pasta.  Return to a boil then shut off the heat and allow to sit 5-10 minutes so the flavors meld.

Serve in warmed soup bowls topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan if you like. 

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  3. I am waiting for it to finish simmering and add the final touches, but it looks like the final product! And although I haven’t tried it yet, the fact that it looks similar to your picture STILL, means its a great success.
    After many a burnt pans, my kitchenware mortality rate is dropping. Phew.

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  5. I love this recipe. Simple, healthy, and a great use of the parmesan rind. I make this every time I burn through a block of it. Yum!

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