Comfort never goes out of style, and this adapted recipe from Rolando Beramendi, author of Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way, delivers precisely that.
Simple and satisfying this Spaghetti a Pezzi con Pomodoro e Ceci in Brodetto, would be perfect for a light evening meal along with some rustic bread like ciabatta. According to Rolando, using dried chickpeas will add infinitely more flavor, so don't miss that important step. Although soaking the beans is more time consuming, we promise it will be worth it.
With spring bringing longer and brighter days, this unpretentious soup along with a crisp white wine can transport you —if even for an hour—to the rolling hills of Umbria. Sign us up!
Cooks note: When you can't source peak-season tomatoes, substitute for jarred tomatoes like the Sliced Spaccatelle Tomatoes from Masseria Mirogallo. This recipe will yield extra chickpeas than you will need for this soup. Use the remainder to add depth to salads or blend into a creamy dip.
Recipe adapted from Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way by Rolando Beramendi, founder of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers. Photo by Laurie Frankel.
Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 3 inches (about 4 horizontal fingers) of water. Set aside to soak overnight at room temperature.
Drain the chickpeas and place in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 3 inches. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the chickpeas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. After 45 minutes of cooking, begin checking the chickpeas for tenderness about every 10 minutes, since cooking time will vary. While the chickpeas are cooking begin making the brodetto (vegetable broth).
To make the brodetto, put the scallions, herbs, garlic and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Cut the large tomato in half and squeeze the juice into the pot, then add that tomato and tomato leaves (if using) to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the herbs, garlic and tomato leaves. Add the 20 cherry tomatoes and cook the brodetto for 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat. Season with salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium sized bowl. Discard solids.
Once the chickpeas have finished cooking, drain them and set them aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, bring 3 cups of the brodetto to a boil. Break the spaghetti into 1-and 1/2-inch-long pieces as you add the pasta to the brodetto and cook until al dente, depending on the type of pasta used.
Drain the pasta through a fine-mesh sieve, saving the brodetto. Set the pasta aside and return the brodetto back into a medium saucepan.
Add the remaining 3 cups of brodetto and 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas into the same saucepan. (You should now have all the brodetto combined.) Heat over medium heat until the chickpeas are warmed through.
To serve, divide the cooked pasta among four soup bowls. Sprinkle with the halved cherry tomatoes and ladle the hot brodetto and chickpeas over the top. Garnish with basil and extra virgin olive oil and serve.