Leek and Chickpea Pasta Soup

by Lael Hazan on November 15, 2010

Giuliano has an uncanny ability to avoid cold or stormy weather in Florida.  You can be assured that anytime there is a hurricane warning for Southwest Florida he will be on a work trip far away.  This past week, when we had a cold snap, he was in Texas.  Fortunately, he left behind his recipes.  Including this Leek and Chickpea soup recipe that is great for inclement weather.

The leeks give a soft, sweet taste to this hearty soup and the chickpeas add an earthy balance. The pancetta lends a savory flavor and becomes tender and succulent.  Gabriella, our oldest, picked out the pieces to eat them by themselves.  It is a perfect comfort soup, it takes less than an hour to make from start to finish, and most of the dish can be made ahead of time.  For those of us on the go, sometimes I feel like I went to graduate school to become a chauffeur for my kids, this makes an easy meal that will fill their bellies, while warming your heart.  OK… that was a bit too trite; however, it is nice to know that there is something easy to heat up that will be enjoyed by all.

Leek and Chickpea Pasta Soup

From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Total time from start to finish:  1 hour

Serves 4

3-4 medium leeks

2 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4″ thick

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small clove garlic

Fresh sage leaves

Fresh rosemary

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups drained canned chick peas

5 cups homemade meat broth or 1/2 a beef and chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 5 cups water

6 ounces tubini pasta or another small pasta suitable for soup

1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano

1.  Cut off the root end of the leeks and trim the tough dark green tops of the leaves.  Cut the leeks in half lengthwise (or in quarters if they are more than an inch thick), then slice them crosswise in chunks about 1/2 inch.  Place the cut leeks in a large bowl full of cold water, swishing them around to loosen any dirt that is clinging to them.

2.  Unravel the pancetta and cut into thin strips.  Put it with the olive oil in a soup pot and place over medium high heat.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta just begins to brown.

3.  While the pancetta is sautéing, finely chop the garlic and coarsely chop the fresh sage and rosemary to get 1 teaspoon of each.

4.  When the pancetta begins browning, add the garlic and herbs.  Stir for about 30 seconds, then lift the leeks from the bowl of water and add them to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add the chick peas and broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat so that the soup simmers, cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes.

6.  Add the pasta to the pot and cook until the pasta is done.  Serve at once, sprinkling some grated pecorino Romano on top of each serving.

Note: You can make this soup up to 2 days in advance.  Do not cook the pasta in it until you are ready to serve.