I’m writing a piece on tequila for May, brainstorming on a summer marketing campaign at work, and shopping for swim trunks for next month’s trip. All signs point to summer and warm weather, but in reality, it’s been colder than normal here in Southern California. While I’m dreaming of ribs, backyard barbeques, and copious amounts of rosé, one step outside in the early morning reminds me that I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. It’s downright cold! Brrr!
Ok, so I had to trick my brain into thinking it was January, which it is. Wait. I’m confused. What? At any rate, while flipping through a cookbook that was sent to me I stumbled upon the perfect dish, something simple and easy and guaranteed to keep you warm. Pasta e Ceci is a soup made with chickpeas and pasta from Jamie Oliver’s book titled “Jamie’s Italy”. More on the book in the next couple of days, but right now I’m going to help myself to another heaping bowl of soup, a piece of crusty bread and a glass of wine. And as I do I will remind myself that even though my brain is on summer, my body and stomach are fully enjoying winter – well, what we call winter here in Los Angeles!
Pasta E Cecci, from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver.
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
A sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 14-oz. cans of chickpeas
2 1/4 cups of chicken stock
3 1/2 oz. ditalini or other small Italian "soup" pasta (matt’s note: I used riso)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: a small handful of fresh basil or parsley, leaves picked and torn
Put the finely chopped onion, celery, and garlic into a saucepan with a little extra virgin olive oil and the rosemary and cook as gently as possible, with the lid on, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, without any color.
Drain your chickpeas well and rinse them in cold water, then add them to the pan and cover with the stock. Cook gently for half an hour and then, using a slotted spoon, remove half the chickpeas and put them to one side in a bowl.
Puree the soup in the pan using a handheld immersion blender. If you don’t have one, you can whiz it up in a food processor instead, then pour it back into the pan. Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta, season the soup with salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender and the pasta is cooked.
At this point, if the soup is a little thick, pour in some boiling water from the kettle to thin it down, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve drizzled with good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Lovely sprinkled with some freshly torn basil or parsley.