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Pasta e ceci (Pasta and chickpea soup)

Serves 4

To enjoy this soup as we do in Rome, begin with dried chickpeas and soak them before cooking. You can cook the chickpeas hours, or even a day, in advance. Cook the pasta and add it to the soup just before serving.

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 8 hours and drained
8 cups cold water
1/2 cup canned tomato puree (or canned, chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
4 ounces pasta, short shapes such as ditallini, or long strands broken into thirds
1. In a heavy 4-quart pot, combine the chickpeas, water, tomato puree or tomatoes, rosemary, and olive oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and partially cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chickpeas are completely tender when tasted. Add salt to taste.

2. Remove about 1 cup of the mixture and some liquid and transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to the pot.

3. Set the soup over medium-high heat and return to a boil.

4. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite. Judith Barrett

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