I've gotten into a habit of cooking a pot of dried beans every Sunday, then finding ways to use them throughout the week (soupy beans make a wonderful breakfast with a fried egg on top). Recently I cooked chickpeas instead of the usual kidney or black beans, and with lots to spare plus an itching for soup, I set out to see what I could find. This Puglian recipe, which I found on the ever-marvelous 101 Cookbooks, won my heart with its talk of fried shards of pasta and all of 4 ingredients.
Normally the soup is made with dried chickpeas simmered in the broth, which lends the soup body, but for a weeknight meal, pre-cooked is fine. (Pasta cooking water can replace some of the lost thickness that would come from the dried beans.) Otherwise, it's only a matter of simmering the chickpeas until they're cooked through, and cooking the pasta alongside. Most of the pasta goes into the soup to finish cooking, but some is reserved and then fried in a half-inch of olive oil. It lend a crispy texture that stays that way in the broth and transforms otherwise humble ingredients into something unique. Good quality, homemade chicken stock helps--since I didn't have any on hand, I added a not-unwelcome pinch of saffron threads that deepened the flavor considerably.
- 4 cups chicken stock, ideally homemade
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
- 6 ounces dried pasta with a broad surface for drying, such as pappardelle
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Small pinch of saffron threads (optional)
If starting from dried, bring the chickpeas and stock to boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through. If using canned, drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to simmering stock and cook until tender.