Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is a dish found all over Italy, though the type of bean and pasta shape seems to vary from region to region, town to town, kitchen to kitchen. From borlotti with tubettini, to cannelini with ditalini, the only thing everyone agrees on is that it's a dish of peasant origin and it's wonderfully filling and hearty. And rock-bottom cheap.
Technically this recipe for chickpea and pasta soup would be called pasta e ceci, but the principle behind it—legumes and pasta—is the same. The key to its success is using generous amounts of herbs, both the rosemary that's cooked into the base of the soup and the parsley to finish. Without them, the result is monochromatic brown food—hearty, but bland. I doubled the herbs and added lemon juice to the original recipe from Jamie's Italy, giving it the needed punch; even chili flakes might be welcome next time. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped, plus celery leaves if available
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 2 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 1/2 ounces ditalini or other small soup pasta
- A good handful of fresh basil or parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
Heat a large skillet or soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and celery leaves, covered, until soft and colorless, about 15 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and stock and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the chickpeas are soft. Remove half the chickpeas with a slotted spoon, and purée the soup in a blender, through a food mill, or with an immersion blender. Return the purée and reserved chickpeas to the pot, and add the pasta.
Cook until the pasta is tender, adding boiling water if necessary to loosen. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the lemon juice. Serve with parsley or basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.