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Classic Pasta e Ceci Soup

4.5 from 2 votes

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An easy Italian chickpea soup full of pasta, vegetables and chickpeas in tomato broth.

A bowl of pasta and bean vegetable soup with a spoon on top of a linen napkin.
Pasta e ceci soup with vegetables and Parmesan cheese.

When I was growing up, my mom would often make a soup called pasta e ceci or pasta fagioli on meat-free Fridays, and it’s always been a favorite comfort food for me.

It’s a classic Italian family-style soup you can prepare as the centerpiece of a simple meal, any day of the week.

What is pasta e ceci?

Chickpeas are pronounced che-chi, and pasta e ceci is a hearty Italian peasant soup made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and pasta.

It’s cooked with tomatoes, aromatic herbs, (rosemary, oregano or marjoram) cheese and sometimes bits of ham or pork.

This soup is just a little different from the one my mom made, She was focused on speed and economy, and used a short list of ingredients: canned cannellini beans or chickpeas, dried oregano, canned tomato sauce and water, along with the short pasta shape called ditalini.

Compared to the heartier, vegetable-packed soups I prefer now, her soup’s texture was more brothy. But of course, I loved it as a kid!

I jazzed up my version of chickpea pasta soup with chunks of carrot, fresh red chili pepper and a small piece of rind from Parmesan cheese. The rind melts into the soup as it simmers, adding another layer of savory flavor.

A bowl of pasta and bean soup with a spoon on a napkin.

(If you want to make a vegan pasta e ceci soup, just leave out the Parmesan, or use a non-dairy cheese).

I often use canned chickpeas, but when you have time, experiment with cooking chickpeas from scratch and see what you think!

I believe it’s worth the extra step of cooking beans from scratch for a couple reasons — chickpeas that are homecooked  have an earthier flavor and better texture than canned.

PLUS the chickpea cooking water doubles as a tasty broth for the soup!

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A bowl of pasta and chickpeas soup with a spoon on top of a napkin, with a dish of cheese and chili pepper on the side.

Classic Pasta e Ceci Soup

Karen Tedesco
Easy recipe for a hearty pasta fagioli-style soup made with chickpeas, pasta and vegetables. This makes a delicious homestyle vegetarian lunch or dinner.
Print Pin
4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Soup and Stew
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin coins
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper such as Fresno, finely chopped; or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red chili
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cups cooked chickpeas with 4 cups reserved cooking water (see how to cook below) or 4 15-ounce cans, drained
  • 1 small Parmesan rind, optional
  • 8 ounces (225 g) dried soup pasta such as ditalini, acini de pepe or orzo, cooked according to package directions
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves or parsley for serving
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Put the oil, onion and carrots in a large heavy pot with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the garlic, chili and rosemary into the pan and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt plus the remaining ingredients except for the pasta, basil and grated cheese (if using canned chickpeas, add 4 cups water or vegetable broth). 
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, chili or freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Remove the Parmesan rind and stir the cooked pasta into the soup. Tear the basil into pieces and add to the pot. Serve in bowls topped with grated cheese.

Notes

  • To cook dried chickpeas for this soup, soak one pound chickpeas in cold water 4 hours or overnight. Drain, place in a pot and cover with water to cover by at least 3 inches. Add 1 teaspoon salt, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, then cook until the chickpeas are tender, which could take 1-2 hours. Reserve the cooking liquid to use as a broth for the soup.
  • Cook the chickpeas up a few days ahead, if you want, and store in the refrigerator covered with the cooking liquid.
  • To make a vegan soup, omit the Parmesan rind and grated Parmesan or use a non-dairy cheese.

Nutrition

Serving: -1g | Calories: 466kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 607mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3517IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 5mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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3 Comments

  1. Feed me this thru an iv

  2. That does look good! I wish my hubby liked soup.