This soup is typical of the cucina povera from Le Marche; frugal housewives would add their leftover fresh pasta pieces called maltagliati or malfatti to boiled chickpeas and their cooking liquid. Pasta Granny Gina likes to make alocal fresh pasta called quadrucci – square pieces made by slicing ribbons of tagliatelle – to her soup. You could use any small pasta shape.
200g dried chickpeas
1 celery stick
2 rosemary twigs
150g small pasta such as quadrucci, ditalini
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 slice pancetta diced and fried (optional)
To serve: Parmesan cheese
Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain, place them in a large saucepan and submerge them with water to a depth of about 2 inches. Tie the celery, rosemary and bay leaf together with a piece of string and add this to the chickpeas (this isn’t strictly necessary but it makes it easier to fish out the aromatics at the end of cooking) and then throw in the garlic clove.
Bring to the boil, skim off any scum, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender – which could be anywhere between an hour and 90 minutes. Top up the water half way through cooking.
Once the chickpeas are tender, remove the herbs, find the garlic clove and mash it into the liquid. Add a teaspoon of salt, bring the soup to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for a further minute if the pasta is fresh, or longer if you’re using dried pasta (the time will depend on which one you’ve used).
Stir through the fried pancetta and serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.
Variations: you could mash some of the chickpeas to create a thicker broth; add a dried whole chilli to herb bunch; if tomatoes are in season, chop a couple up and add with the garlic