Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Pasta e ceci … with a quiz

I had a strong desire for pasta e ceci… a commonly made thickish soup of chickpeas and small cut pasta. Romans make it with generous black pepper, rosemary and anchovy.

I simply made it without consulting recipes because… well… I know what it is supposed to be and I can do that.

A common sofrito or mirepoix began it, into which I added some pancetta.  I used the little processor to make it fairly fine.

Some white wine, to evaporation.

A key ingredient.  You need good, aromatic rosemary.  Save a sprig for a garnish.

I had some little tomatoes that needed consumption, so what the heck.  And, yes, you find pasta e ceci with tomato.  Sometimes it’s the paste that disappears into the mix.

Another shot of salt and pepper and in goes our chick peas and broth.

Don’t forget the anchovy.  You could add this at the sofrito stage, buy it won’t make much difference.

I kept out some of the chickpea and pureed them with broth, to thicken the soup.

Short cut pasta, such as cannolichi are great.  These are ditalini.   The Great Roman’s grandmother would break bucatini into small pieces.  Good idea.

This is going to need more broth.

Here’s a nice bowl of pasta e ceci.   It really hit the spot.  I had enough to share with my clerical neighbor.

Did you know that the Latin word for chickpea is “cicer“?  Like the orator?  I suppose that some ancestor in his family had one of those chickpea like growths in a visible place.

Also, in Italian, a “cicerone” (chee-chair-OH-neh) is a guide, like a tour guide, someone who shows you around.  Why?  Because Virgil was Dante’s guide through Hell.   Yes… give it a couple minutes and you’ll work it out.

BTW… Cicero was born in Arpinum.

Can you think of another famous “novus homo… new man” who was from Arpinum?

Friends, good food doesn’t have to be complicated.  Just do it!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. capchoirgirl says:

    Mmmm! That looks fabulous.

  2. Cafea Fruor says:

    Oh, that looks good! I’m sick with a cold today and would love it if someone made me soup. As it is, I got caught off guard with this one (thought it was allergies until this morning) and have next to nothing in the fridge or pantry and have zilch energy to cook anything anyway, so I’m scrounging for something to eat. I’m going nowhere (including Mass) today, given my fever, so I might have to give in and order something for delivery.

  3. acardnal says:

    Was the broth chicken or vegetable?

    [This was chicken broth. You could use either.]

  4. adriennep says:

    I keep saying Father Z needs to do a cookbook! I’d buy multiple copies.

    Now I have to wait one day to procure ingredients for this fabulous dish.

  5. Karl Keating says:

    “Can you think of another famous ‘novus homo… new man’ who was from Arpinum?”

    Yes, I can, but not perhaps the man you have in mind: Luigi Embergher was born in Arpino (today’s name for Arpinum) in 1895. He was a master luthier, and his mandolins remain highly prized. There is a small museum about him, his work, and his instruments in Arpino.

    [I am glad to know about him. However he is not the famous novus homo to whom I referred.]

  6. JustaSinner says:

    Alas, too many carbs…but I can dream!

  7. G1j says:

    We settled for venison goulash today…Tasty, but the pasta e ceci looks fantastic.

  8. Gab says:

    adriennep says: “I keep saying Father Z needs to do a cookbook! I’d buy multiple copies.”

    Capital idea! It would go well with the cooking show I keep saying he should do.

  9. DanW says:

    Gaius Marius

    [Yes, indeed.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  10. Fallibilissimo says:

    First off, it’s pretty late where I’m at and now I desperately want some pasta e ceci. That looks absolutely delightful. And I second what a commentator said here about willing to get a cook book if you made one!

    As for the novus homo, I can think of two: one is Gaius Marius, one of the most fascinating men in Roman history. Aka the third founder of Rome after Romulus and Camillus.
    The other one is Octavian’s, later Augustus, close friend Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Like Gaius Marius who fought in a civil war that would spark great instability, he also fought in a brutal civil war (s) whose conclusion would see the beginning of the Pax Romana. He built the Pantheon in Rome (Though almost nothing of what stands there today is his original building).

    Recently I learned of a Roman expression involving chickpeas: “anna’ a fa’ terra per ceci”. Which translates into: going to make earth for chickpeas. It means someone has died and his body is fertilizing the ground for chickpeas to grow. Very visual and very “down to earth”…like all Roman expressions.

  11. richiedel says:

    DanW got it.

  12. Grabski says:

    Fr Z. A primer on what pasta to go with which recipe and why would be v helpful!

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    Gaius Marius by DanW is my guess, but Fallibilissimo makes an interesting point about Marcus Agrippa.

    In the waning years of the Roman Republic about 90 BC Gaius Marius was a general who was victorious against the shaggy-haired, howling Germanic war bands. Marius reformed the army, allowing peasants and city-dwellers to the ranks. These new recruits did not supply their own equipment as the landed citizens did before, but were supplied by their commanders. This wider recruiting pool made the Roman Army more capable, but it also caused soldiers to increasingly identify with their general. Other military reforms also took place.

    Anyway, Marius was involved in some sort of dust-up in Rome with Saturnius, a rebel who occupied the Capitol. The Senate called on Marius. Marius beseiged Saturnius and his followers and cut off the water supply. I think Marius promised Saturnius a fair trial, but some sort of Roman mob eventually killed Saturnius.

    Marius, I think when he got into politics, delivered a speech against his Senate opponents. It seems to be an ancient Roman anti-snowflake speech:

    “My words are not carefully chosen…It is my adversaries who require oratorical skill to help them cover up their turpitude. Nor have I studied Greek literature; I had no interest in a branch of learning which did nothing to improve the characters of its professors. The lessons I have learnt are such as best enable me to serve my country- to strike down an enemy, to mount guard, to endure winter’s cold and summer’s heat, to sleep on the bare ground…They call me vulgar and unpolished, because I do not know how to put on an elegant dinner and do not have actors at my table…For I was taught by my father and other men of blameless life that while elegant graces befit a woman, a man’s duty is to labor…that the weapons he carries in his hands, and not the furniture he keeps in his house, are ornaments most worth having…let them [Marius’ Senate opponents] spend their old age as they spent their youth…the slaves of gluttony and lust.”

    -Sallust “Jugurthine War,” tr. Thomas F. Madden.

    I’m unsure what Marius’ later political career was like, but he may have travelled down the authoritarian path as Rome continued to descend into political violence. This was about the time of the Social Wars and Sulla marching his Legions on Rome (which might have been the first march on Rome).

    As for Marius’ “weapons in hand,” I would include a Rosary, aspergillum, or crozier.

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