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Zuppa di Ceci ( Chickpea soup)

I am not a lover of soups. I prefer to eat my food rather than drink it this recipe is one that I have come to really enjoy. Pasta con Ceci is a kind of thick soup lending influences to my roots in rural Tuscany. The recipe originally came from a Jamie Oliver supplement in a national newspaper, he however used chicken stock instead of vegetable and my wife was vegeterian at the time so I had to adapt it a bit.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the soup
Foodideals - Zuppa con Ceci1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
A sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2x 400g. cans of chickpeas
500ml of vegetable stock
100g good quality dried spaghetti, snapped into 2cm long pieces when uncooked.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garlic crostini
1 loaf ciabata
1 clove garlic ( 2 if you want it really garlicy) peeled.

Method

Put the finely chopped onion, celery, and garlic into a saucepan with a little extra virgin olive oil and the rosemary and cook as gently as possible, with the lid on, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, without any color. Drain your chickpeas well and rinse them in cold water, then add them to the pan and cover with the stock. Cook gently for half an hour and then, using a slotted spoon, remove half the chickpeas and put them to one side in a bowl.

Pour the soup in the pan into a food processor and blitz until smooth but still rustic, then pour it back into the pan. Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta, season the soup with salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender and the pasta is cooked.

Meanwhile to make the crostini. Slice the ciabata loaf into about 1-1.5 cm thick slices and toast them under the grill. When they are nicely toasted but without too much colour, remove them from the grill and rub them with the clove of garlic. The more you rub the more the garlic will be transfered to the bread and the stronger the flavour.

When the soup is done if it is a little thick, pour in some boiling water from the kettle to thin it down, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve drizzled with good-quality extra virgin olive oil and the garlic bread crostini on the side.