Comfort in a bowl

Thursday, 25 September 2014

This may not look like the most exciting dinner but, let me tell you, Pasta e Ceci is one of the most comforting, tasty, autumnal and easy meals. And a real crowd pleaser. The whole family love it and it's a great one for younger children and toddlers too.

It's also one of those recipes you can add anything to, once you've made the base of the soup. I serve it to the little people as it is, but then add some dried chili flakes or torn up basil leaves and an extra drizzle of olive oil to ours afterwards.

So what is it? I think its a bit of a soup / pasta hybrid. You could certainly make it more soupy by adding extra stock or water, but I prefer to keep the consistency quite thick.

My sister gave me this recipe from one of her Jamie Oliver cook books years ago and I look forward to the weather getting a bit cooler so I can add it to the weekly meal plan again. Perfect with a glass of red and some garlic focaccia. 

2 x tins of chickpeas, drained
150g short pasta (preferably ditalini, but mini shells are a good alternative)

500ml chicken or vegetable stock (plus extra boiling water to adjust consistency to preference)
small onion, finely chopped
stick celery, finely chopped
sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus some for serving)
salt and freshly ground pepper
optional extras - parmesan cheese, chili flakes, torn basil leaves

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pan, cook the onion, celery and rosemary in the olive oil over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, until softened.

Add the chickpeas and stock and cook for a further 15 mins.

Remove half the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and set aside. Puree the remaining ingredients. I use a handheld 'zapper' to do this, but you could transfer to a blender and then return the pureed mixture to the pan.

Put the whole chickpeas back in the pan, along with the pasta. Let this bubble away, uncovered, for about another 15-20 mins until the pasta is cooked. At this point I tend to stand over it and add some additional hot water to get it to the consistency I like. I also stir frequently to stop the pasta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve into bowls and add optional toppings as you wish.

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