Weekly Winner:  Pasta Fagioli?  Basta! — this soup is better!

Is there such a thing as finding salvation in a bowl of soup?  I believe there is.  When it comes time to “lighten up” by eating better and undoing all the damage that the holidays caused, I truly think soup is the way to go.  First of all it is liquid and takes longer to eat than, say a sandwich.  Also it’s hot which slows you down a bit as well. But there is also something deeply satisfying about a steaming bowl of soup.  It truly feeds your soul as well as your appetite.

Having said all that, I am generally more of a fan of puréed and creamy soups than those that are chunky and broth-based.  That is possibly, until now.  This soup is a game changer.

So, what makes Italian Chickpea Soup soup so fabulous?  I mean it is basically Pasta Fagioli but instead of beans it has chickpeas.  I think a few things that makes this so fabulous is that a portion of the soup is puréed adding body and richness to the broth.  Secondly, there’s a nice balance of heat in this soup.  Just enough to wake up your taste buds without blowing your head off.  Finally (and perhaps most importantly) is the generous sprinkling of crisped pancetta that is sprinkled over the top.    This is a healthy, fulfilling, and darn tasty soup and the recipe comes from Cuisine at Home.

Italian Chickpea Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 cup dry ditalini pasta

3 oz. pancetta, diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 cups diced onions

1/2 cup each diced carrot and celery

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp each minced fresh garlic, rosemary, and sage

1 tsp anchovy paste

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups chicken broth

2 cans chickpeas (15 oz each) drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes in juice (28 oz)

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan

Procedure:

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
  2. Cook pancetta in oil in a large pot over medium heat until crisp, then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate; reserve 2 Tbsp drippings.
  3. Sweat onions, carrot, and celery in drippings in same pot, covered, over medium heat until vegetables soften, 5-8 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, sage, anchovy paste, and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  5. Deglaze pot with wine, scraping up any brown bits.  Cook until wine nearly evaporates, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, and pasta water.  Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer 2 cups soup to a food processor or blender; carefully purée and return to pot.
  8. Stir pasta into soup, cook until warmed through, 3-5 minutes.  Season soup with salt and black pepper; top servings with Parmesan and pancetta.
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