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Pasta e Ceci

A large pot of pasta and chickpea soup, with a full white bowl next to it and a plate of shredded white parmesan.
Pasta e ceci is an old recipe from Rome, and there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks in the city. This version adds shredded greens in the last moments of cooking.
Rebecca Seal & John Vincent

Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr
4 to 6 servings
314 kcal


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large (6 oz) carrots finely diced
  • 2 medium (10 oz) yellow onions finely diced
  • 2 stalks (3 1/2 oz) celery finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped red chile (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste or passata
  • 3 1/2 to 5 cups vegetable broth or hot water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • One can (14 ounce) chickpeas in water drained and rinsed (or 8 1/2 ounces [240 g] cooked chickpeas)
  • A generous pinch of hot chile flakes or mild red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 7 ounces small pasta tubes (ditalini is traditional) gluten-free if needed
  • 5 1/4 ounces fresh kale or other leafy greens stems removed and finely sliced (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • In a large, deep pot or Dutch oven with lid over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the carrots, onions, celery, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and chile, if using, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it darkens and melds with the oil.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or hot water, plenty of black pepper, the rosemary, chickpeas, and chile or pepper flakes, if using. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  • If you prefer a thicker, richer broth, remove about 2 ladlefuls of the stew and use a stick blender to blitz until completely smooth, then pour back into the pot. Otherwise, proceed to step 5.

    TESTER TIP: If you’ve got some Parmesan rinds stashed in your freezer, toss one into the soup while it simmers.

  • Return the soup to a simmer, then add the pasta and 1 cup vegetable broth or hot water. Cover and cook until al dente, according to package instructions, stirring now and then and topping up the broth or water as needed.
  • If using, add the kale/cabbage about 3 minutes before the pasta is done, stir and put the lid back on. (If you like well-cooked greens without any crunch, add 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked.)
  • Taste and add more seasoning (remember the cheese is salty, too) or chile flakes, if you like. Serve in wide bowls, with Parmesan grated over and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    TESTER TIP: When reheating leftovers, stir in additional broth or water, as the soup will thicken considerably as it sits.