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Quel che piace

Passport & Plate - Zuppa di Ceci

Italy | Thursday, 13 March 2014 | flickr photos

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 15-ounce cans of chickpeas
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste


How to prepare this recipe
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pot along with 1 cup of water. Cook on low-medium heat, covered, until the chickpeas are soft and heated through, about 15 minutes.

Remove slightly more than half of the chickpeas from the pot and puree in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed chickpeas to the pot and stir them thoroughly. Let the soup simmer on low heat.

Saute the garlic with the chopped leaves of one sprig of rosemary for several minutes until toasted, and then add to the soup.

Allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Add water as necessary to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh rosemary for garnish.


The story behind this recipe
Non e` buono quel che e` buono ma e` buono quel che piace.
Personal preference reigns in matters of taste. (Tuscan proverb)

The chickpea may seem to be a lowly bean. But Italian cooking honors the most humble of ingredients. This is most evident in the Tuscan kitchen, known as “cucina povera" or “poor cuisine.”

This recipe for chickpea soup is extremely simple; it gets to the heart of what matters to me about the Italian attitude toward food. A dish may start with a humdrum ingredient, but it never ends with a boring flavor.

This soup is so remarkable that, months after eating it in Florence’s tiny, family-run Trattoria di Mario, I dreamed about it. I awoke from the dream with a lingering sense of well-being. Already back in America, I set out to recreate my Italian experience through recreating this soup.

Everyone goes to Italy and loves the food; I went to Italy and loved the way in which we ate. I absorbed Italian customs, sensing that they were the nutrients I craved as much as the fresh fruits and vegetables that accompanied them. I had lived a malnourished life, before Italy, lacking this critical information. I adored food, but didn't have the proper rules to appreciate it.

I feel not only a deep kinship of spirit with the Italian people; I also feel a reverence for their culinary culture. It is, I believe, a holistically healthy national mindset – and one that could help remedy America’s troubled relationship with eating.

Italians give their full attention to food. This means giving it the time and care it deserves in both preparation and consumption. In Italy, life revolves around food; mealtimes calibrate days the way clocks do in other countries. Food commands the respect it deserves.

This translates to an experience of eating – and of living – that is more wholesome, more joyful, and ultimately more filling than what we know here in America. With this soup, I’ve been able to bring a little bit of that experience and way of life home.

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