Monday, September 26, 2011

Slipping into Fall with a Bowl of Zuppa di Ceci

Roma tomatoes, rosemary, red chilies, and Swiss chard...a few of the fresh ingredients needed for this Tuscan chickpea soup, all happen to grow in pots in our courtyard. With a few more vegetables, and a pound of dried chickpeas, soaked the night before, I was able to have a pot of soup simmering on the stove and ready to enjoy within a few hours. It's that fresh, simple, and rustic style of Italian cooking that draws me in on lazy Sunday afternoons. We're looking forward to enjoying the leftovers this week, or freezing them for a future, chilly evening in front of the fireplace.

Zuppa di ceci
Adapted from Twelve:  A Tuscan Cook Book
Serves 8

1 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
14 cups of water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 sprigs rosemary
2 small red dried chilies, left whole
4 ounces Swiss chard or baby spinach, trimmed and finely sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, skinned and pureed
8 thick slices white, country-style bread
Extra virgin olive oil, for bread and drizzling over soup

Drain the soaked chickpeas and set aside. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery for five minutes. Add the chickpeas and 14 cups of water. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer, uncovered for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Skim the surface and remove any scum during cooking. Season with salt and pepper during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

In a blender, carefully purée two-thirds of the chickpeas, with some of the cooking liquid. Return the pureed soup to the pot (with the remaining one-third whole chickpeas and their liquid).

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, rosemary sprigs, and chilies. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, and then add the Swiss chard or spinach. Sauté a few more minutes, and then add the pureed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and chilies, and discard. Add the tomato sauce to the chickpea soup and simmer for another few minutes to blend the flavors.

Drizzle bread with olive oil and toast under the broiler on both sides.

Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve with toasted bread.


Sunday soup, bread and wine. You can't go wrong. Maybe I'll try to convince our summer Concert in the Park culinary group to participate in a "Sunday Soup" rotation during the fall and winter months...

Also from Twelve:  A Tuscan Cook Book, are these Baked Spinach Dumplings

1 comment:

Eva said...

The soup looks delightful. I love the taste and texture of chick peas (Garbanzo beans!). Taste of Tuscany sounds like a plan!