Zuppe di ceci

 

This very easy soup is a staple in southern Italy. Relatively low in calories and very low in fat, it’s a perfect example of the healthful–and tasty–Mediterranean Diet. The soup should be highly flavored with herbs and a touch of crushed, red hot peppers.

  • 1 lb. chick peas, washed and soaked overnight in 3 times their volume of water
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 5-6 plum tomatoes or 1 large can plum tomatoes, drained and seeded
  • 1 Qt. water or broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed, red hot pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 T. minced fresh herbs of choice
  • salt and pepper

Combine the soaked ceci with 2 Qts. of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender. Set aside.

Make a soffritto by heating the olive oil and sauteing the carrot, celery, onion and garlic with a pinch of salt. Saute until tender and add the tomato paste, red hot pepper flakes and bay leaf.

Saute another 1-2 minutes. Add the chick peas with their water and the additional water or broth, oregano, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer about 1 hour or more to allow flavors to develop.

Remove the bay leaf and add the fresh herbs; simmer for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and/or more red hot pepper flakes. Drizzle each serving with olive oil for added flavor. Serve hot.

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