Pasta e Ceci Recipe + Video

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Pasta e Ceci recipe, a classic hearty 1-Pot Italian dish of pasta with chickpeas cooked together with aromatics in a white broth. This easy zuppa recipe has Sicilian roots with countless regional variations: alla Siciliana, Romana, Napolitana, Toscana and the very best rendition from yours truly of course!

pasta e ceci recipe

Pasta e Ceci

It’s a soup, it’s a stew, it’s pasta and chickpeas aka Ceci!

It’s Ceci e Fregola in Brodo Bianco!

You start with sautéing onion, garlic and fresh tomatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and infuse lots of flavor with fresh rosemary, and in my own rendition: some fragrant fennel seeds. Then toss in soaked chickpeas and water that simmer away in a white broth until tender.

pasta e ceci with tomatoes and kale

Puree a few ladlefuls until smooth and creamy then add back into the soup to naturally thicken it into a stew. Just like making pasta e fagioli, the broth should still be loose enough that the pasta can be easily cooked in it.

By cooking the pasta in the broth all those released starches help bind everything together in a creamy and silky Italian embrace.

pasta e fregola in process shots

The Broth

The traditional broth is creamy and white (Bianco) but dairy-free, with some fresh tomatoes popping through to balance the natural sweetness of the chickpeas. Resist the temptation to add any tomato paste or canned tomatoes here as to not overpower the dish.

The Type of Pasta

Sardinian Fregula pasta cooked al dente is my absolute favorite pasta to use here. It’s basically hand rolled and toasted Italian couscous made from durum what semolina and water. The same shape you see in Italian wedding soup and this pesto fregola pasta salad, It’s absolutely divine in this soup. All things considered, you are free to use other small pasta shapes you might have in the pantry. Ditalini, stelline, orzo or tiny shells would all make great substitutes.

pasta and chickpeas

Tips + FAQ

  • Should I soak the dry chickpeas? It is strongly recommended that you soak the Ceci in cold water overnight; or in the morning if you plan to cook them for dinner. This will shorten the cooking time and yield the creamiest result.
  • Can i used canned chickpeas instead of dry? You sure can, but fresh is better. Make sure to adjust the water to maybe 4-5 cups or so if you are going that route.
  • Creaminess – By pureeing some of the cooked chickpeas with the broth and adding back into the stew you will achieve a divine creaminess factor that checks all the boxes.
  • The Greens – Dark leafy greens like baby kale, Cavalo nero, escarole, chard, dandelion greens or fresh Italian parsley are traditionally wilted straight into the soup at the very end. So take it whichever direction your taste buds desire.
  • Add ins – Pan seared Beyond Italian sausages (e salsiccia), grilled or pan fried zucchini, potatoes, steamed or roasted broccoli florets, lots of fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts etc.
  • Serving suggestions – A drizzle of basil pesto plus a slice of homemade crusty bread, dinner rolls, or Italian focaccia serve as the perfect vehicle to mop all your bowls clean.

pasta and chickpea soup

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5 from 2 votes

Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci recipe, a classic hearty 1-Pot Italian dish of pasta with chickpeas cooked together with aromatics in a white broth. This easy recipe has Sicilian roots with countless regional variations: alla Siciliana, Romana, Napolitana, Toscana and the very best rendition from yours truly of course!
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 25 minutes
Soaking Time:6 hours
Total Time:7 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups dry chickpeas
  • 1 cup fregula pasta (or your favorite small shape pasta)
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 cups baby kale escarole, spinach or 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 7-8 cups water + more as desired
  • 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional + recommended)

Instructions

  • Soak the dry chickpeas in a large bowl of cold water overnight, or in the morning for evening cooking.
    1.5 cups dry chickpeas
  • Preheat a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat and sautee the onion with a pinch of salt in a drizzle of olive oil until translucent.
    1 yellow onion
    pasta e fregola in process shots
  • Stir in the fennel seeds, chili flakes, garlic and rosemary. Toss to coat well and cook just until the garlic fragrant taking care not to burn it.
    3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp red chili flakes, 2 sprigs rosemary
  • Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and cook just until they start releasing their juices.
    2 cups fresh tomatoes
  • Add the chickpeas and the water and bring to a boil. Season with a good pinch of salt, cover with a lid and cook for one hour until the chickpeas have softened. Stir in the nutritional yeast if using and adjust seasonings with more salt if needed.
    1.5 cups dry chickpeas, 7-8 cups water, 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Remove about 5 ladles of the soup (making sure to get a little bit of everything) and transfer to a powerful blender. Puree until silky smooth and set aside.
  • Meanwhile add the fregula pasta (or whatever pasta shape you are using) to the simmering soup and stir well. Boil until al dente following the package directions and making sure to stir often to prevent sticking.
    1 cup fregula pasta
  • Once the pasta is cooked add the pureed soup back into the pot and mix well to combine.
  • Add the baby kale, parsley or whatever greens you are using and cook another minute or so until wilted. Discard the rosemary sprigs and serve with crusty bread, focaccia and a drizzle of olive oil.
    3 cups baby kale
    pasta e ceci

Video

Notes

  • Should I soak the dry chickpeas? It is strongly recommended that you soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight; or in the morning if you plan to cook them for dinner. This will shorten the cooking time and yield the creamiest result.
  • Can i used canned chickpeas instead of dry? You sure can, but fresh is better. Make sure to adjust the water to maybe 4-5 cups or so if you are going that route.
  • Creaminess - By pureeing some of the cooked chickpeas with the broth and adding back into the stew you will achieve a divine creaminess factor that checks all the boxes.
  • The Greens - Dark leafy greens like baby kale, Cavalo nero, escarole, chard, dandelion greens or fresh Italian parsley are traditionally wilted straight into the soup at the very end. So take it whichever direction your taste buds desire.
  • Add ins - Pan seared Beyond Italian sausages (e salsiccia), grilled or pan fried zucchini, potatoes, steamed or roasted broccoli florets, lots of fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts etc.

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 822mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1850IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fregola recipes, pasta e ceci
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 362kcal
Author: Florentina

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The most delicious interpretation of pasta e ceci I have tasted. The addition of fennel seeds here is brilliant and using fregula pasta compliments all the other textures here making this a new lovely stew that can’t be confused with pasta e fagioli. A classic that should be a staple in this very exact form. Brava

  2. 5 stars
    One of the most comforting, filling and delicious meals. I used Israeli couscous instead of the fregola pasta and it turned out wonderful. Also added a little more water because I wanted a thinner soup.