I wanted to call this recipe "Zuppa di Ceci con Pomodori," but my copy editor insisted that it be in English. But doesn't it sound better in Italian? For optimum flavor, use dried beans to make this hearty dish. However, the beans do require overnight soaking before being cooked, so in a pinch you can use canned garbanzos. Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta that lends itself well to this soup, but feel free to substitute any pasta you happen to have on hand.
- 1-1/4 cups dried garbanzo beans, or two 15-ounce cans, drained
- 6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
- 1 cup orzo
- One 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. If using dried garbanzo beans, put them in a large bowl and add water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let soak for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
2. Drain and rinse the beans, put them in a large soup pot or stockpot, and add fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours, until tender. Drain and set aside.
3. In the same pot, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-high, add the orzo, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garbanzos and tomatoes and bring the soup back to a simmer.
4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the seasonings into the beans, along with the salt and pepper.
5. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a drizzle of olive oil on top.
Splendid Table Tip: When blending hot liquids in a blender, hold the lid down firmly, using a pot holder or kitchen towel, while the machine is running.