Pasta e Ceci

This simple, hearty dish is pure Italian comfort food. Made with double carbs (chickpeas -- the “ceci” -- and ditalini!), it’s somewhere between a soup and a pasta, bringing the best qualities of both to one bowl. While it’s optional, the Parmesan rind adds a depth of flavor here as well as to other soups and stews, especially vegetarian ones. Whenever you finish a wedge of Parmesan, just wrap the leftover rind well in plastic and keep it in the fridge. The lemon zest and juice add a bright note to the broth that’s thickened by mashing some of the chickpeas. If you don’t have a potato masher, you can mash the chickpeas against the sides of the pot with a wooden spoon.







  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrots, celery and leeks; cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are wilted, about 5 minutes. Clear a space in the center of the pot and add the tomato paste, rosemary, garlic and red pepper flakes. Let toast for a minute, then stir into the vegetables. Add the chickpeas, lemon zest, bay leaves, Parmesan rind, if using, 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash some of the chickpeas until the broth appears creamy and slightly thick, leaving plenty of chickpeas whole, 6 or 7 mashes around the pot should do the trick. Add the ditalini and 1 cup water. Return to a simmer and cook until the ditalini is very al dente, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let sit until the broth is thickened and the pasta finishes cooking, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the bay leaves, cheese rind and lemon zest before serving. Season the pasta e ceci with salt, if needed. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.
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