Pasta e Ceci is a rustic Italian stew made of pasta and chickpeas! While simple ingredients are used, the deep flavors of this soup are accomplished by using fresh herbs and a parmesan rind to simmer with the soup. The end result is hearty, rich, and so satisfying!
If you’re a fan of pasta and chickpeas, then you will love this Italian Pasta e Ceci soup (pronounced as “pasta eh che-chi”). Which in English means pasta and chickpeas!
It reminds me a lot of my Pasta e Fagioli – another simple Italian pasta and beans soup! But this soup primarily focuses on just pasta and chickpeas. Only a handful of ingredients are used, but each bite is rich in flavor and the soup itself is the coziest – making it the perfect soup for fall/winter!
Why This Recipe Works
Since this recipe is traditionally made with really simple ingredients, I took steps to elevate the taste and texture and infuse as much flavor as possible. The first step I took was replacing water (traditionally used as the base) and using half vegetable broth and half water instead for a little more flavor than just straight water.
For the texture and consistency, I decided to puree half of the soup to get it as creamy as possible and help it naturally thicken and reduce.
For the flavor, I used fresh aromatic herbs (rosemary and sage) and also a parmesan rind that simmers with the soup and infuses a TON of rich flavor. Whatever you do, do not skip this step!
I also use healthy pasta shells that are gluten-free and also made from chickpeas, which makes this soup even more nutritious!
Ingredients – What You Need
Below you’ll find the full list of ingredients needed to make pasta e Ceci!
Pasta: I love using healthy pasta like these chickpea shells. But you can also use any smaller pasta shape – my other favorite pasta to use is ditalini.
Chickpeas: cooked chickpeas for the star of the show!
Onion: a yellow onion for sweet flavor is preferred.
Carrot: to add flavor and some sweetness.
Garlic: in this recipe, I use mostly fresh garlic and a touch of garlic powder for lots of flavor!
Broth: I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth for the base.
Water: to lessen the broth flavor, I also use half water. But you can also use two parts water or two parts broth.
Red pepper flakes: for a little heat – but don’t worry! It’s not spicy.
Fresh sage & rosemary: I use the whole herb on the stem to infuse flavor into the soup, then remove it at the end!
Parmesan cheese + the rind: You’ll need fresh parmesan Reggiano for dusting over your bowl of soup, but also the rind of the cheese to let simmer in the soup. See notes below for more info on this!
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Step 1 – Saute the carrot and onions in oil until soft. Then add garlic and herbs, and stir in with veggies for 30 seconds.
Step 2 – Add the broth and water to the aromatics.
Steps 3 & 4 – add the chickpeas and parmesan rind to the pot. Season with garlic powder, salt & black pepper, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Step 5 – then use a ladle to remove about 2 cups of soup in a high-powered blender (do not include any parmesan rind or herb sprigs). Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir.
Step 6 – Then add the dry pasta shells to the soup and let simmer until the pasta is fully cooked through. When ready to serve, season with salt & black pepper to taste, and discard the herb sprigs and parmesan rind. Serve with fresh parmesan overtop!
Tips for Success
Types of pasta to use – this recipe works really well with smaller pasta noodles such as small shells and ditalini. You can also use leftover broken pieces of pasta if you want to go real rustic! I also like to use healthier pasta such as these chickpea shells – they taste like regular pasta and are gluten-free friendly.
Don’t skip the parmesan rind! So much flavor comes from simmering the parmesan cheese rind in the soup – don’t skip this step. And don’t worry about the rind melting into the soup! If it’s an authentic rind, it will only soften and infuse the richest flavor into your soup.
Always use fresh herbs – this recipe shines with fresh herbs. Using dried herbs won’t give the bright flavor we’re looking for, so I recommend fresh whole sprigs of sage and rosemary!
You can use water or broth – I have two parts broth and water in this soup because vegetable broth brings more flavor than straight water. If you don’t have broth, you can use 6 cups of water. Be sure to season your soup with extra salt and some garlic powder to get the flavor just right!
Ways to blend the soup – for this recipe, I call for pureeing a small part of the soup to thicken it. This can be done using a hand-immersion blender and only blending it for a couple of seconds. Or my preferred way is to transfer the soup into a high-powered blender or food processor. That way, you can accurately measure how much soup you want to blend.
How to fix if soup becomes too thick – Add a little bit of water or broth as needed to fix the consistency if it’s too thick. This can happen if the soup simmers too long and becomes too reduced.
How to Freeze & Store Leftovers
Leftovers – should be stored in an airtight container and chilled for up to 3-4 days for ultimate freshness.
To freeze – place soup in a freezer-friendly bag (air removed) or an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and reheat on the stovetop, use broth as needed to adjust consistency if it’s too thick.
Our Serving Suggestions
This soup goes wonderfully with homemade bread! You can use a store-bought crusty Italian bread, or try this cranberry walnut bread or cinnamon raisin bread. If you’d like to add a side salad, we love serving our Tuscan artichoke salad or this Italian salad.
Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpeas)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium to large yellow onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup dried pasta shells
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
- 1 parmesan cheese rind see notes below
- freshly grated parmegiano reggiano for serving
- Saute aromatics: in a large pot, saute the diced onion and carrot in oil with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes. You want to lightly cook them, not caramelize or create any color, so keep the heat lower. Add minced garlic cloves and the fresh herbs and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add liquids: in the same pot, add the vegetable broth, water, chickpeas, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and salt & black pepper. Stir ingredients together and add the parmesan cheese rind.
- Simmer: partially cover the soup and let it gently simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally, and make sure the bottom is being stirred to prevent the parmesan rind and vegetables from sticking to it.
- Blend part of the soup: then carefully transfer about 2 cups of the soup (avoid the herbs and parmesan rind) and blend in a high-powered blender until pureed. Add the pureed soup back to the pot.
- Cook the pasta: then add the dry pasta to the soup. Let it cook until the pasta is al dente in texture! Because the soup is simmering lower than normal pasta water, the pasta will take a few minutes longer than the package time. Stir occasionally while the pasta cooks.
- Serve: When the pasta is cooked and has reduced a bit, remove the parmesan cheese rind and herbs. Season to taste with salt & pepper if needed, then serve the soup with fresh parmesan cheese!