Chickpea Soup

Chicpealg

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans is an important food source in Italy.  Chickpeas are high in protein and nutrient rich.  Dry-roasted chickpeas, sold by street vendors, are a popular snack food much like roasted peanuts are here in the U.S.  This earthy, flavorful, soup is rich and very filling.

CHICKPEA SOUP
(Minestra di Ciciri /Zuppa di Ceci)

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
1 pound dried chickpeas
1/2 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)
Additional chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl.  Cover with 5 cups of water and let sit overnight.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas.

2. Using a 6-quart covered stockpot over medium-high heat, saute onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, 6 cups of water, parsley, and baking soda. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 hours, until chickpeas are soft.  Season with salt and pepper halfway during cooking.  Add more water if necessary.

3. Place half of the chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth but still having little bits of chickpeas, or process until completely smooth if desired.  Add in hot water if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Return to pot and give a quick stir.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls, lightly drizzle olive oil on top, add a sprinkling of parsley and some fresh ground pepper.  Serve with thin slices of bread toasts if desired.

VARIATION:  One cup of small cooked pasta such as ditalini or shells can also be added to the soup.

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