Lisa – this soup is for you.
Our family has had many memorable meals from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Her Bolognese, her pesto, La Grande Insalata Mista, cannelloni, fresh pasta, focaccia, the Roast Chicken with Lemons. All memorable, all standbys. Although it has been a couple of years since Chick Pea Soup has been in rotation, I bet I have made this soup over 100 times. How should I describe it? For a grown-up, this soup can be rustic Italian; for a kid, it’s an easy going pasta and beans; for a baby this soup could be food, could be a toy, and it’s definitely great for practicing small motor skills.
I made Chick Pea Soup today but what I initially wanted to make was Alice Water’s Pasta e Fagioli – the one I wrote about in my very first blog post. I love that soup but you have to soak the beans in advance. I can never bring myself to use canned cannellini. Canned cannellini are too mushy and they don’t deserve to go in Alice Waters’ soup. Canned garbanzo beans are another story. Although I usually like to soak and cook my own, today was a very busy day and I had to take short cuts. When I realized at 2 pm that I’d forgotten about soaking cannellini or cranberry beans and that I hadn’t any more time to go to the market, I knew it was time. Time to make the soup that was probably the initial inspiration for this blog. This soup is the reason that I always keep cans of chick peas, boxes of Pacific brand organic chicken stock and canned tomatoes in the house. I have slightly adjusted the quantities of the soup so that there will be no leftovers from the cans. Two cans of chick peas, one quart box of chicken stock, a large can of tomatoes, half a pound of pasta. Done.
We had a whatever-is-left-in-the-crisper salad and Boursin and crackers on the side. I was going to write that this meal was not my proudest moment but I think I’m going to have to take that thought back. Making a meal that satisfies every person in the family, without a special trip to the grocery store, using just what’s on hand, is something to be very proud of.
Last Minute Menu
- Chick Pea Soup
- Whatever Salad (ours was romaine, tomatoes, carrots…and feta?! Weird but fine.)
- Boursin and water crackers
Chick Pea Soup – pasta variation
Chick Pea Soup is unlike most soups in that it is not particularly soupy. Most Americans would beg that this is not soup at all as there is hardly any broth. What I say is that if Marcella says this is soup then I do too. It is a lovely soup. As Marcella states:
Soup is one of the tastiest things one can do with chick peas.
I have to say I agree.
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled (no need to chop!)
- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
- a small sprig of fresh rosemary (you really should have a plant in the back yard!) or 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
- (1) 28 oz can tomatoes, drained of their juice
- (2) 14 oz cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 quart chicken broth
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 lb elbow pasta (I like the ribbed Barilla elbows)
- Grated parmesan to serve
- Put the olive oil and garlic cloves into a 5-6 quart heavy bottomed soup pot and turn on the heat to medium. Sauté the garlic until it becomes light brown all over and then remove them from the pot (you can toss the garlic out).
- Add the rosemary sprig (or dried rosemary if that’s all you’ve got) and immediately add the tomatoes. They will sizzle wildly for a few minutes. I stand as far back as I can with an apron on and my kitchen scissors in hand and quickly snip all the whole tomatoes into 3/4″ pieces. A normal person would just get out the cutting board and chop them up beforehand. If you value your shirts and your hands, I recommend that you do this.
- Cook for 20-30 minutes over medium low heat. You’ll be ready to continue when the oil floats free of the tomatoes.
- Add the drained chickpeas and stir thoroughly. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the broth, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the pasta, and stir every few minutes, following the cooking time stated on the box. Stirring frequently will keep the pasta from sticking to the pot. Cooking pasta this way is very different from cooking it in copious amounts of salted water.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve with freshly grated parmesan.