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To cure what ails you: Chickpea and Pasta Soup

chickpea and pasta soup

I’ve been fighting a summer cold for the last few days. I always find fair-weather illness extremely annoying- not only do you feel sick, but you feel guilty for feeling sick. We’re made to feel that colds should only occur when it’s, you know, cold, so we convince ourselves that we should feel fine- after all, the sun is shining outside and the temperature is balmy. But, try as we might, we just can’t ignore the sniffling, sneezing and unmistakable presence of phlegm. (Sorry, I do realize that the word “phlegm” has no place on a food blog. It won’t happen again.)

Luckily, there are things that can make us feel better, the most important one being food. Sure, people are always saying that “drinking lots of fluids” and “getting enough vitamin C” are the surest ways back to health, but I prefer my medicine in a comforting, home-cooked package. Common knowledge tells us that chicken noodle soup is the cold cure-all, and though I don’t eat chicken, I’m not about to argue with Common Knowledge. 

So, what’s the vegetarian equivalent of chicken noodle soup? I think the jury might still be out on that one, but this soup did me just fine when I made it a few days ago. Adapted from my book du jour, Jamie’s Italy, it’s part pasta dish, part thick stew, and completely delicious. 

Made from chickpeas, pasta and not much else, its simplicity will appeal to your inner child in need of nourishment. But using good stock and topped with fresh parsley and parmesan, it’s flavourful enough to appeal to the more healthy among us, as well. What can I say?  I’m may not be cured, but at least I’m well-fed.

  • Chickpea and Pasta Soup
  • adapted from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    1 small onion, chopped finely
    1 stick of celery, chopped finely
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    500ml vegetable stock or water
    100g macaroni, ditalini or other small pasta shape (about 1 cup)
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    2 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic and thyme, and cook, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes. The onion should be very soft and translucent, but should not colour. 

    2. Add the chickpeas and stock, re-cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. 

    3. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the chickpeas to a bowl. Puree the remaining chickpeas and broth, using an immersion blender (or a food precessor). Return the whole chickpeas to the pot, along with the pasta and a good pinch of salt.

    4. Return pot to the heat and cook gently, covered, until the pasta is tender. This will take slightly longer than the package indicates, as the soup is so thick. If the soup seems too thick to cook the pasta, add some boiling water from the kettle. 

    5. When the pasta is cooked, remove soup from the heat and season to taste, adding a good amount of black pepper. Stir in most of the parmesan and parsley and allow to cool for five minutes. Serve with the remaining parmesan and parsley as a garnish. 


  1. Dana says:

    I have made that soup countless times – it is so incredibly delicious that I find myself craving it. And so simple! I always add extra pasta so it is more of a stew than a soup. I usually use the smaller pasta he suggests, but I love how the larger noodles look in your dish!

  2. Karen says:

    I made this a few weeks ago – it was amazing. I added a leftover rind from some parmesan during the stewing process, and it added a delicious thick cheesy flavor. Definitely recommend.

  3. Ele says:

    Dana- I actually couldn’t find ditalini anywhere, and this macaroni was the smallest shape I could get my hands on. I also love how it looks, though- I like the contrast between the chickpeas and pasta!

    Karen- That is such a good idea, I should have done that. I keep parm. rinds in the freezer (I’m always reading to do that) but always forget about actually using them when I make soups! It’s a great flavour with the soup, though- some sprinkled on top worked well.

  4. THB says:

    If you have time, and this can be done largely unattended, don’t use canned chickpeas, but buy the best bulk and dried ones, soak them overnight and then put them in a very heavy (cast – iron type is best) casserole with a bay leaf and a bit of salt and enough water to cover by at least two inches. Then bring to a simmer and put in a 300 deg oven and try and regulate to get down to a bare simmer – you can probably get it down to 275 or so. Leave for 2-3 hours checking for the water level, add if necessary, and take them out just before the skins start coming off.

    After draining and cooling these freeze wonderfully and you will always have some on hand – and the taste is way better than any canned ones, and has none of those nasty preservatives in it.

  5. MH says:

    um so guess who made this tonight in her little closet kitchen!? Successful and delicious!! I even took a picture. Going to send it to you :)

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