Soups, Stews and Sandwiches, Vegan/Vegetarian

From Rome with Love: Pasta e Ceci

Nicoletta January 7, 2019

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From Rome with Love: Pasta e Ceci. It is a classic Roman fare, one that you still see on restaurant menus and family tables. Chickpeas, a soffritto of onion, carrot and celery, plus the intense fragrance of garlic and rosemary are the main ingredients of this delectable dish.

Song of the day: I know I used it already, but the song ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ by Morcheeba always gets me going. If you want a real taste of Rome, listen to one of Rome’s iconic singer, Gabriella Ferri, with ‘Chitarra Romana’.

Pasta e Ceci

Patience is not my strongest point. I think I’ve said that somewhere, already. However, some things are worth the wait.


Pasta e ceci

Pasta e Ceci, the way I like and remember, starts with dried chickpeas. They are first rinsed in water, then soaked for 24 hours, changing the water twice is recommended.  This is because the chickpea cooking water, a bit cloudy and oh so flavorful, will be the broth in where your pasta is going to cook.
Why not taking the shortcut with chickpeas in a can? Oh, I do it, sometimes, when the time is tight, and then I remember why I love using the dried chickpeas so much. Because I miss the ‘bite’, the al dente texture of the dried chickpeas, and the water the chickpeas were cooked in which provides the best broth in which to cook some pasta.

Pasta e CeciPasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci is Rome’s iconic dish, no less than Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe. It dates back some 2.000 years and has few variations, like most Italian regional recipes. If you step into any Roman trattoria or osteria, mostly on Fridays, its designated day, you will probably find pasta e ceci. The fragrance of garlic and rosemary, combined with the mirepoix and bay leaf, will tantalize your nostrils, giving Pasta e Ceci its unmistakable taste.

Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci: is it Pasta and Chickpeas or more Chickpea Soup?

Good question. I would say it is a thick soup, kind of like Pasta e Fagioli, dotted with whole chickpeas and scented with rosemary. It is definitely not pasta and chickpeas in the sense that you do not cook the pasta separately and then you add it to the chickpeas. No no (see my index finger moving sideways, lol). The two cook together in a wonderful embrace.

Pasta e Ceci can be brothy or creamy; it can be red if you add the tomato; it can include anchovy or potato; the chickpeas can be soaked by you or added from a tin, kept whole, or pureed (half); the pasta can be ditalini or cannolicchi (which I usually use), maltagliati, or broken tagliatelle. It is a dish that invites improvisation and tweaking according to taste. My recipe turns out different each time I make it. Sometimes I puree half of the chickpeas if I want it more creamy; sometimes I add the potato, and it makes a nice thick, starchy broth; sometimes I don’t use the carrot, only onion and celery; most times I don’t use the tomato and I make it white. A note on the tomato: even if using, the tomato has to be small and give just a little blush of color to the dish. No rich tomato sauce is used in the traditional Pasta e Ceci from Rome. 

Pasta e CeciPasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci warms you up from the inside out

Pasta e Ceci is my all time favorite soup (see, I call it soup), comforting and hearty. It is the kind of dish that turns my world right if I had a bad day, or I got the chills or felt down and melancholy. It is able to warm up my body and heart.

  • It has plenty of proteins, which in my case are always a struggle to add, and
  • lots of fiber
  • It is vegan, not to mention
  • budget friendly and
  • very satisfying.

pasta e ceci

Step back in time and into a Roman trattoria with this classic Pasta e Ceci. Hope it is able to warm up your body and soul in these cold, wintry days.

From Rome, with love.

Buon Appetito.


Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Soups, Vegan
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


From Rome with Love: Pasta e Ceci. It is a classic Roman fare, one that you still see on restaurant menus and family tables. Chickpeas, a soffritto of onion carrot and celery, plus the intense fragrance of garlic and rosemary are the main ingredients of this delectable dish.


  • 150 g (2/3 cup) dried chickpeas (they will become 350 g2 cups soaked chickpeas)
  • 2 liters of cold water + more if necessary
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 small tomato on the vine (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 60 g ditalini pasta, lisci or rigati (with ridges)


  1. Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water for 24 hours, after that, drain and wash under cold running water and put in a terracotta cotta pot with 2 liters of water, the garlic clove, and the rosemary sprig.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat, and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender (mine took almost 3 hours). Keep in mind you need enough water to cook the pasta in, after, so top up with more water if necessary. Take out the rosemary sprig and garlic.
  3. At this point,  you can puree part of the chickpeas, to get a creamier consistency. I pureed 1/4 of the chickpeas in a mixer with a touch of their cooking water. Then I put the puree back into the pot.
  4. While the chickpeas are cooking, mince the onion, carrot, and celery. You could also blend them in a food processor. Mince the tomato (if using).
  5. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, add the mirepoix, the bay leaf, the minced tomato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 -6 minutes. Add it to the pot with the chickpeas and stir.
  6. Check if there is enough water if not, top it up. Adjust with salt. Bring it to a boil, add the pasta and cook, stirring every now and then, until the pasta is al dente and the water has reduced (keep in mind that it will continue cooking and thickening when turned off).
  7. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve with a grinding of black pepper and a little more olive oil poured over the top.


If using dried chickpeas you need to start planning your Pasta e Ceci 24 hours prior, letting them soak in water and changing the water twice.

If using chickpeas in a can, use good quality, possibly organic, chickpeas and make a vegetable broth.

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Pasta e Ceci

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  • Avatar
    Reply Anna Lia January 7, 2019 at 4:14 am

    Lovely post with lovely photos, thank you!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you! I just love this soup!

  • Avatar
    Reply Milena January 7, 2019 at 8:58 am

    I have never had pasta-e-ceci but looks delicious and I am with you on using dry chickpeas. Texture is so important and canned ones never live up to expectations. Pinning this and will definitely give it a try!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 7, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      Thank you, Milena! Canned ones miss texture and flavor, which is all in this simple soup with very few ingredients.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sherri January 9, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Ah, two of my favorite things in the world…chickpeas and pasta! These photos are gorgeous! I’m absolutely in love with this soup; I could eat it all day! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 9, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Thank you so much! I have been in love with this soup all my life and possibly the thing I ate the most 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Veena Azmanov January 10, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I so agree – I love using canned when I must but soaking the dried and using them until just cooked is always the best. I love this recipe. Sounds so flavorful and delicious.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Me too, I use them if I have to, but there is no comparison. Thank you, it is delicious!

  • Avatar
    Reply annie@ciaochowbambina January 10, 2019 at 9:35 am

    It really doesn’t get any more homey or nostalgic for me…. This is a favorite, my friend. Pinned!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 10, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thank you, Annie! A favorite also for me. It just tastes like home.

  • Avatar
    Reply anne lawton January 10, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve heard of this, but never tried it. I think that’s going to change, it looks delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 11, 2019 at 5:51 am

      Thanks! Hope you try it, it’s delicious!

  • Avatar
    Reply Aleta January 10, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    What a perfect soup for this time of year. I can smell the delicious aromas and feel the heartiness warm my bones before I even write these ingredients on my grocery list. Can’t wait to make this!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 11, 2019 at 5:51 am

      It’s pure comfort. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kiki Johnson January 12, 2019 at 8:40 am

    I came down with a flue and would LOVE for someone to bring me a bowl of this delicacy! Italian soups are brilliant and my favorite comfort food for winter! Gorgeous pics, btw!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2019 at 7:21 am

      Thank you! This is just right for me when I have a cold or flu symptoms. Wish I could bring you some!

  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa Franca January 12, 2019 at 8:45 am

    You can’t go wrong with pasta and chickpeas. We absolutely love this classic combination. With this cold weather and snow lingering a huge pot of pasta e ceci is just the thing for warming up. Frankly, I believe in getting warm from the tummy out. Lovely recipe.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2019 at 7:22 am

      So true! Warming up from the inside out and a plate of this pasta e ceci surely helps!

  • Avatar
    Reply Analida Braeger January 12, 2019 at 9:49 am

    It’s like pasta and soup rolled into one. I love that this makes the perfect side dish or appetizer for a crowd. So aromatic and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2019 at 7:25 am

      For us in Italy this is a primo piatto (first course) or main course, we don’t consider it a side dish or let alone an appetizer, but if you so like, serve it as your heart desire and everybody will love it. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Elaine Benoit January 13, 2019 at 6:35 am

    I looked at this soup and said to my hubby, I’m making this soup this week. It looks like something my grandmother used to make and it screams “comfort food” to me! Love all the flavors and the colors and I can’t wait to make it.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2019 at 7:26 am

      It is definitely comforting and delicious. Hope you make it and love it! Thank you so much!

  • Avatar
    Reply Elizabeth Leaver January 13, 2019 at 11:33 am

    I have never heard of Pasta e Ceci but I’m so glad you posted this because it sounds so good! I’m definitely craving warm, hearty dishes like this in these cold months, so this is perfect 👌

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      It is a winter favorite around here, and not only 🙂 . Thank you for your comment!

  • Avatar
    Reply Veronika's Kitchen January 13, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    This soup looks perfect for a cold evening like today! It finally snowed here in PA and all I want is a bowl of warm delicious soup like this!)

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 14, 2019 at 2:40 am

      This soup would surely bring some comfort on a snowy day 🙂 . Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life January 13, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I’ve recently discovered cooking with chickpeas (and I’ve been on a major Pinch of Yum Moroccan chickpea bowl kick) so I bet I’d love this pasta e ceci. We’ll definitely be giving your recipe a try in the not-too-distant future.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 14, 2019 at 2:41 am

      Chickpeas are amazingly good and incredibly good for you! Glad you’ve finally discovered them! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Linda August 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    I grew up on Pasta Ceci. We ate a lot of ‘inexpensive’ meals growing up. Pasta with chickpeas, lentils, peas, channeling beans, were frequently on the table. My friends always wanted to eat at my house!!! Your technique is a bit different than my family’s, but I enjoy trying other recipes. I followed your recipe and method, with the exception of adding one anchovy fillet when sautéing the vegetables. Really, really good!!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 7, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you for your feedback! This is possibly my favorite dish. Happy you liked it. If your parents are from a different part of Italy, Pasta e Ceci is surely different (•‿•).

  • Avatar
    Reply Mathew Nelson July 14, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Nice photos! Tried this recipe to the letter and didn’t enjoy it. Very little flavor, pasta and chickpeas (I started with dried so I could control the texture) and it feels like it’s missing something. I’ll play with it by using pancetta or chicken stock. I’ve had this many times in Italy and it has always been fantastic. It is such a simple dish that you would think it would be easy to make.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta July 14, 2020 at 9:01 pm

      Hi, sorry to hear about your disappointment. Especially because this is my favorite dish, one that I make often and absolutely love. You can try adding more flavor with 1 or 2 anchovies, but traditionally we don’t add pancetta or chicken broth. Sometimes just a little more seasoning. Anyway, anything tastes better in Italy 🙂 .

      • Avatar
        Reply Mathew Nelson July 19, 2020 at 6:25 pm

        Reading some alternative methods and saw that many use anchovies as you suggest. I also think I did under spice mine (not enough salt) and I used a small Cuisinart that finely chopped the ceci but not enough to create the creamy texture needed. I’m going to try these changes tomorrow. I do appreciate that you have the options for dry ceci as I think that is so important for a successful dish. Fingers crossed!

        • Nicoletta
          Reply Nicoletta July 20, 2020 at 10:13 am

          Hope the second time is a charm!

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