When you have 5 boxes of gluten-free ditalini (don’t ask, it was a hubby purchase from Amazon), Pasta e Ceci soup is a good way to start making a dent in that stockpile of pasta. This particular recipe has been “Lynnie-ized” meaning I took bits and pieces from similar recipes by Giada De Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver and another unknown to make my version.
It includes lots of herbs and other flavor boosters, especially if you use homemade stock as opposed to the bland boxed or canned varieties. The finish is nice and thick rendering it hefty enough to be a meal in itself, or include a small side salad if desired. If you prefer a more brothy texture, add in another 2 cups of chicken stock.
Pasta e Ceci
- 1 large fresh rosemary spring
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Inner celery ribs with leaves, chopped
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups homemade chicken broth
- 2 19-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup ditalini or other small, tubular pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Wrap the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine to make a sachet.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, pancetta and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, beans, tomatoes and herb sachet. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.
- Transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture to a blender and reserve.
- Add the ditalini to the soup pot, cover, and bring the liquid back to a boil. Boil gently until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
- Puree the reserved bean mixture until smooth, then stir the puree into the boiling soup. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.