Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pasta e ceci

Simple, filling, nutritious, delicious.

A variation on pasta and beans (pasta e fagioli), and like pasta and beans, can be made wholly meatless for Lenten suppers.

2 medium onions, chopped fine
3 carrots, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 c olive oil
4 strips bacon, chopped or 4 oz salt pork, skin removed, chopped fine (optional)
1 28-oz can tomatoes (I used the "chef's cut" or diced tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes lightly crushed work fine, too.  You can also use canned crushed tomatoes, but I find them a insufficiently chunky for my tastes.)
4-5 cups water (or optionally, chicken stock)
1 19-oz can chick peas ("ceci"), drained and rinsed
bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup ditalini pasta

In a 5- or 6-qt Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat.  If you're using the bacon or salt pork, add it to the pot, and cook until lightly browned and partly rendered.

Add the onions, carrots, garlic, hot pepper flakes.  Saute about 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the chick peas, tomatoes, stock or water, bay leaf, thyme.

Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and let simmer gently for about 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly.

Bring back to a robust simmer, add the pasta, stir, reduce heat to a low flame, and cook about 12 minutes until pasta is tender.  The soup will thicken considerably as the pasta cooks.  If you prefer it "soupier," add additional stock or water. 

Serve immediately, and pass grated pecorino cheese and hot pepper flakes at the table.  

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