Passato di Ceci

December 17, 2009

Passato di Ceci

For you non-Italians, it’s pureed chickpea soup, a recipe from Anne Burrell’s Food Network show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.

I started by soaking a pound of dried chickpeas (ceci) in cold water overnight in the fridge. I drained and rinsed them when it was time to cook. In addition to the ceci I assembled a quarter pound of diced pancetta, one large onion, two celery ribs, one large carrot (all three veggies cut into half-inch dice), three crushed garlic cloves, three bay leaves, a thyme bundle, two quarts of homemade chicken stock, some crushed red pepper, and a parmesan cheese rind. The recipe doesn’t cal for the rind, but I have a whole bag of them in the Deep Storage Facility freezer and figured one would add a complimentary nutty flavor to the soup.

Mise em place

I filmed a soup pot with oil and rendered the pancetta over medium heat.

Pancetta

When the pancetta was crispy, I added the veggies and let them sweat until softened, about six minutes.

Sweaty veggies

I added the chickpeas, thyme, bay leaves, cheese rind, stock, and a quart of water, bringing the mixture to a boil before returning it to a simmer.

Simmering passato

After an hour and a half, I checked to see if the ceci were soft, able to be crushed by pinching with my fingers. They were, so I reseasoned with salt and let the soup rest for twenty minutes, during which time I prepared the croutons. (I also removed the bay leaves and rind, which would not have been a pleasant textural contribution to the final dish.)

I filled a skillet with a half inch of olive oil, three sprigs of finely chopped rosemary, three more crushed garlic cloves, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. After a few minutes over medium heat I removed the garlic cloves, which had infused the oil. I added half-inch chunks of bread I cut from five slices of ciabatta.

Croutons

When the croutons were crispy I salted them and removed them to a bowl. The remaining oil was added to the soup, which I pureed with an immersion blender until it was smooth.

Puree

I ladled the soup into bowls, added a generous handful of croutons, and drizzled some high-quality olive oil over the top.

Final plate

I was expecting this soup to be bean-y, but I was surprised at how subtly flavored it turned out to taste. It was hearty without being heavy, the smooth texture was complimented by the crunchy, oil-soaked croutons.

I’ll be making this one again; it’s dead simple to prepare, and, with a side salad makes a complete meal. I served it as a first course for a pork dinner, about which you can read in the next post.

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