Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian recipe’

As a follow up to publishing the launch date of my second cookbook,

Healthy Eating for Life

here’s the first recipe in that book–a warming dish for winter:

Chickpea and Pasta Soup

Worth considering for Christmas Eve or Boxing day evening [the 26th for American friends] !


It has been eaten in Italy since Roman times.

The poet, Horace, wrote about heading for home and a bowl of leeks, pasta and chickpeas.

There are many variations on the theme of chickpeas and pasta.

A constant flavour is rosemary.

Serves 4

450g cooked chickpeas–tinned or bottled

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

carrot–chopped fine

stick of celery–chopped fine

small onion— chopped fine

garlic cloves–pulped with a teaspoon of salt

1 tbsp tomato concentrate

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

a sprig of rosemary 

a sprig of sage

750ml vegetable stock (I use organic vegetable stock cubes)

Parmesan rind (optional–this is just the leftover rind when you’ve grated all the useable cheese off. Save them for this soup!)

salt and black pepper

180gms small pasta (tubular is what I use, but any small pasta will do)

olive oil to swirl in each bowl

  • Purée two-thirds of the cooked chickpeas in a food mixer or blender (you can use a bit of the liquid from the tin, can or jar to loosen the mixture, if you wish)
  • In a large pan gently sauté the carrot, celery and onion until they soften–about 10 minutes.


  • Add the garlic, the cayenne (if using) and the sprigs of herb, mixing them in for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato concentrate and cook a further couple of minutes.
  • Stir in the chickpeas and the purée.
  • Add the stock and the parmesan rind (if using) and bring the soup gently up to the boil.
  • Add the raw pasta and stir well ensuring the purée doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Season and simmer until the pasta is done–adding more liquid if it gets too thick.


  • Serve hot–with the addition of some steamed broccoli, si vous voulez!

chickpea soup with broccoliIMG_3823

Along with its cousin, pasta e fagioli, these are my two favorite soups of the moment!

Read Full Post »

Our friend Helen is a natural cook.

She rarely uses recipe books; rather she builds a dish from the ingredients to hand–throwing in this and that from time to time with an instinctive sense of when it’s right.

I love watching her cook.

She prepared this pasta on our visit last year–a reviving lunch after a morning working in the olive grove.

It was creamily delicious–hard not to take another spoonful! It seems to get better and better just sitting on the table. How did she managed to make it turn out that way?

I asked her to cook it again for us this November–while I took notes.

She uses a variety of courgette/zucchini that is paler than those I find here and has raised ridges–ideal for catching the garlicky olive oil sauce.

No matter–I shall try this at home with the common dark green variety.

Here’s what she did:

for 4

a pound and a half/750gms zucchini/courgettes–sliced evenly

3 tblsps olive oil (their own!)

2 garlic cloves–peeled, crunched under a knife and roughly chopped

a pinch of chili powder–(Helen adds more when her son Lucio is expected for lunch. Sometimes she doesn’t add any when it’s just her and Keith.)

hot water


A handful of chopped parsley

400gms/16oz–wholewheat spiral pasta (or other shapes)

parmesan cheese to grate for those that like it

  • Helen sets plenty of water to boil for the pasta.
  • Then she heats the oil in a large sauté pan and adds the garlic, letting it take on some color.
  • Next she adds the courgettes and a tablespoon of hot water; she shakes the pan to coat the courgettes in the oil and sprinkles over some salt.

  • She leaves the mixture to cook gently on a lowish flame, jiggling it from time to time, for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • A little more salt and the parsley is added towards the end.

  • She cooks the pasta just before al dente, then drains it–saving some of the hot water.
  • She adds that water to the courgettes in the pan.

(Those additional tablespoons of hot pasta water prevent the dish from tasting too dry. )

  • She covers the pan until the moment of serving so the pasta stays moist and warm.
  • We enjoyed it with some grated parmesan–Helen leaves it as it is.

Read Full Post »