Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpea Stew)

5 from 28 votes
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Pasta e Ceci is classic Italian comfort food at its finest. Budget-friendly, made in one pot, and on the table in right around 30 minutes, this cozy soup is strikingly simple. Best served with crusty Italian bread and an extra drizzle of olive oil. Chickpea and pasta stew with kale and cheese in a gold bowl

As with many classic Italian recipes, there are many different ways to prepare pasta e ceci. Many of which have been tweaked to perfection over generations according to regional or family preferences. 

However many of the staple ingredients – chickpeas, pasta, quality olive oil – stay the same. It’s all about preparation (which truly, couldn’t be simpler), and using quality ingredients (especially the EVOO!)

Pro tip: If you’re not heart-set on keeping this stew vegetarian, it is DELICIOUS topped with crispy fried pancetta. You can also melt some anchovies into the sautéed garlic and onion mixture for an extra boost of umami. 

How to Make Pasta e Ceci

Make sure all of your ingredients are prepped and ready to go at the start of cooking. This stew comes together quite quickly!

The IngredientsRecipe ingredients in separate bowls on white board with labels

  • Pasta: Ditalini (short, round tubes of pasta) are the classic short pasta for this dish. Alternatively, you can use orzo or elbows.
  • Chickpeas: You need 1 (15-oz.) can of drained and rinsed chickpeas (which amounts to roughly 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas). Chickpeas are a great source of fiber and plant-based protein. 
  • Aromatics: A mix of onion (yellow, sweet, or white), garlic, and fresh rosemary create the aromatic foundation for this stew. I like to fry the whole rosemary sprig in the olive oil so it infuses the mixture with woodsy, herbaceous flavor.
  • Broth: Many recipes call for water, however I prefer the extra flavor that vegetable or chicken broth adds to the soup. 
  • Tomato Paste: Some recipes call for whole or peeled and diced tomatoes, however I love the concentrated flavor of tomato paste. Just make sure to cook it long enough to remove the raw tomato flavor, and amplify its umami magic.
  • Greens: For a pop of color and extra nutrients, stir in chopped escarole, kale, or spinach at the end of cooking.
  • Cheese: This stew is classically garnished with Pecorino Romano cheese, which I highly recommend. In a pinch, however, you can certainly use Parmesan. 

The Directions

Step 1: Sauté Aromatics

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and rosemary sprig; cook 6 to 7 minutes, until soft.

Next, stir in tomato paste, garlic, and chili flakes; cook 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing tomato paste to caramelize. Onion, garlic, rosemary, and tomato paste sautéing in a pot

Step 2: Add Chickpeas

Add chickpeas and stir to coat. While the chickpeas simmer, use the back of a fork or spoon to mash about 1/2 cup of the chickpeas. (This helps create a creamier broth.) Sauté chickpeas for 3 minutes total. Remove rosemary sprig. Chickpeas being mashed and cooked in a blue pot

Step 3: Add Broth and Pasta

Add broth, and stir to release any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, add pasta, and slightly reduce heat to bring soup to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.Broth and dry pasta being added to a pot of sautéed aromatics

Step 4: Stir in Greens and Cheese

Stir in kale (or escarole) and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the greens are wilted, and season with salt and pepper. 

(Note: the stew will be quite thick at this point. If you prefer a brothier soup, stir in 1 cup of water.)

Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with additional grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Chickpea pasta stew styled in a gold bowl with a spoon resting on the side

What to Serve with Pasta e Ceci:

I love simply serving this stew with crusty Italian bread and butter. However, it’s also a fantastic compliment to salads or sandwiches. Here are a few of my favorite pairings:

How to Store and Reheat:

  • To Store: Let the soup come close to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate soup for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat: This soup reheats best stovetop, however you can also nook it in the microwave for convenience. For stovetop reheating, place soup in a small saucepan and add water or broth to thin out to desired consistency. Cook over medium heat until warm.
    • Alternatively, heat individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warm. 
  • To Freeze: Transfer completely cooled soup to a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziptop bag. Lay flat in the freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

More Easy Soup Recipes to Try:

Tuscan Tortellini and Tomato Soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Nourishing White Bean and Lemon Soup

A spoon taking out a bite of pasta e ceci

If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.

5 from 28 votes

Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpea Stew)

Pasta e Ceci is classic Italian comfort food at its finest. Budget-friendly, made in one pot, and on the table in right around 30 minutes, this cozy soup is strikingly simple. Best served with crusty Italian bread and an extra drizzle of olive oil. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 3 to 4 people

Equipment

  • Large Soup Pot or Dutch Oven

Ingredients  

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry ditalini pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 4 cups chopped kale leaves or escarole
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and rosemary sprig; cook 6 to 7 minutes, until onions soften.
    Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing tomato paste to caramelize. 
  • Add chickpeas and stir to coat. Use the back of a fork (or spoon) to mash about half of the chickpeas while they simmer. (This helps create a creamier broth.) Sauté chickpeas for 3 minutes total.
    Add broth and stir to release any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, add pasta, and season with salt and pepper. Slightly reduce heat to bring soup to a simmer.
    Simmer, uncovered, until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove rosemary sprig and stir in kale (or escarole) and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the greens are wilted, about 2 more minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with additional grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Notes

Note: If you’re not heart-set on keeping this stew vegetarian, it is DELICIOUS topped with crispy fried pancetta. You can also melt some anchovies into the sautéed garlic and onion mixture for an extra boost of umami. 
  • To Store: Let the soup come close to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight storage container. Refrigerate soup for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat: This soup reheats best stovetop, however you can also nook it in the microwave for convenience. For stovetop reheating, place soup in a small saucepan and add water or broth to thin out to desired consistency. Cook over medium heat until warm.
    • Alternatively, heat individual portions in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warm. 
  • To Freeze: Transfer completely cooled soup to a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziptop bag. Lay flat in the freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.33cups | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 650mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!
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31 Comments

  1. Gwen says:

    5 stars
    SO good! This is going to be a staple in my house.

  2. Carole L. says:

    5 stars
    So easy and packs a ton of delicious flavor! Absolutely a must for fall meal planning!! 💗

  3. Penny says:

    5 stars
    This is the perfect comfort soup – cozy and filling! I had to make a couple of substitutions based on what I had in the pantry. I used elbow pasta instead of ditalini and frozen spinach instead of kale. Very versatile for whatever you have on hand!

  4. Misty Fontenot says:

    5 stars
    During the winter, this has been an every other week staple for us. I make a crunchy whole grain garlic bread with it and so yummy!!! I can almost make it without the recipe now; I’ve made it so much!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so happy to hear that, Misty! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a review!

  5. Diane says:

    5 stars
    This was super easy to make and tastes delicious. I didn’t put in cheese so added a little extra salt. Will make it again. Thanks!

  6. Diane says:

    Can this soup be done without cheese? Will it taste horribly different?

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Diane. You can omit the cheese, however it may lack a little richness. I would finish it with a drizzle of olive oil to make up for it. Maybe also add some nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor! Enjoy

  7. Jen says:

    5 stars
    Delicious, nourishing and so simple! I love a soup that can be made quickly from pantry staples. I will be making this again!

  8. Stephen says:

    5 stars
    Amazing! Found all the ingredients at my Trader Joe’s and came together quickly on a Monday night. Doubled the recipe. My wife and I both loved it. You won’t miss the meat. The chili flakes and rosemary take this to a new level for pretty basic ingredients. Great recipe for this time of year!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Stephen – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!