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.