Chunky Cicerchie Soup

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Dried cicerchie are wild chickpeas, and they make a robust and flavorful bean soup.

Chunky Chickpea Soup in white bowl next to spoon.

A thick bean soup on a cold winter night is sublimely satisfying. This soup features cicerchie, a wild variety of chickpeas, also called “chickling” or “fava chickpeas”. It’s vegetarian, actually vegan, so available to everyone. It reheats beautifully; you may need to add a bit more water or broth if it has thickened up in the pot or the fridge.

Cicerchie are most often used in Italian cooking (Umbrian in particular). The taste is slightly different from chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), a bit more assertive and earthier. The two can easily be swapped out for one another in this soup and other recipes as well. Cicerchie are available dried, so must be cooked before using.

This soup is a hearty meal on its own, but it would also be great with a salad with Italian dressing or maybe paired with a comforting Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Cicerchie Soup in a white bowl with hot sauce on top.

What Is Cicerchie?

You can find dried cicerchie beans in Italian or specialty markets and, of course, online. The flavor is somewhere cross between a fava bean and a chickpea. They have a jagged irregular shape when dried and uncooked, but plump up nicely when cooked. In this soup they are pureed, so their wonky shape is irrelevant.

Treat cicerchie like other dried beans: soak them in cool water to cover overnight, drain them, then simmer them in fresh water to cover until tender. The amount of time will depend on the freshness or age of your dried beans; older beans will take longer to become tender. They will take between 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, on average.

How to Cook Cicerchie Beans

  1. Soak the dried cicerchie in a generous amount of water to cover for 12 to 24 hours, allowing enough room for them to double in size as they soak.
  2. Drain, then transfer them to a large pot and add cold water to cover them by at least 3 inches.
  3. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour until tender.
  4. Drain and use in this soup recipe, or use in other recipes.

Kitchen Smarts

You can puree the soup all the way until it is fairly smooth, but I like to leave it slightly chunky so that your mouth has something to do.

Chunky Cicerchie Soup Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – A little extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top makes a nice presentation.
  • Red onion – You can use a white or yellow onion if you don’t have red on hand.
  • Carrots – Adds some natural sweetness to the soup.
  • Celery 
  • Dry sherry – You can sub in whatever dry white wine you have open or skip it if you don’t have either.
  • Dried rosemary – Crush up the leaves so you don’t get a big mouthful of rosemary.
  • Dried thyme – These leaves are so delicate you can throw them in whole.
  • Broth – Chicken or vegetable broth are both great. Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.
  • Cicerchie – You can substitute dried chickpeas if you can’t find cicerchie.
  • Sriracha or another hot chili sauce – Add some to the soup itself, then drizzle a bit more on top.
  • Lemon – Adds a hit of acidity to balance other flavors.
  • Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese – Optional. Go without if you want a completely vegan soup.

How to Make Chunky Cicerchie Soup

  1. Soak and cook the beans: See above for directions.
  2. Sauté the vegetables: Cook the onion, carrots, and celery in the olive oil in a large pot. Cook until starting to soften. Deglaze the pan with the sherry.
  3. Make the soup: Add the seasonings, chicken broth, and cicerchie or chickpeas. Simmer to finish cooking all the ingredients and let the flavors meld together. Add the hot sauce.
  4. Purée: Use an immersion blender or regular blender to purée two-thirds of the soup. Before serving, stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Serve: Top each bowl with hot sauce, olive oil, and/or a sprinkle of cheese.

Tips

  • Puree the soup to be as chunky or smooth as you like
  • Substitute in cooked or canned chickpeas for the cicerchie

Kitchen Smarts

If you want to pulse the soup in a blender or food processor instead of using an immersion blender, go ahead. Just make sure not to fill the appliance more than halfway full, or the hot liquid could cause the top to pop off and splatter hot soup everywhere.

Make Ahead and Storage

This soup, like so many soups, is better the next day. Or the day after that. So after cooking and blending, place it in the fridge and refrigerate for up to several days. The flavors will blend together as the soup rests. Reheat it on the stove over low heat.

This also freezes well for up to 6 months. Make sure to leave enough headroom in the container for the soup to expand without popping off the lid of the container.

What to Serve With Cicerchie Soup

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5 from 1 vote

Chunky Cicerchie (or Chickpea) Soup

Dried cicerchie are wild chickpeas, and they make a robust and flavorful bean soup.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups dried cicerchie (or chickpeas; or sub in 4 cups rinsed and drained canned chickpeas)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling if desired)
  • 1 large red onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 5 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry (or whatever white wine is open, or skip it)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot chili sauce (plus extra for drizzling)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions 

  • Soak the dried cicerchie in a generous amount of water to cover for 12 to 24 hours, allowing enough room for them to double in size as they soak.
  • Drain, then transfer them to a large pot and add cold water to cover them by at least 3 inches. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour until tender. Drain and use in this soup recipe, or use in other recipes.
  • In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until beginning to slightly softened. Add the sherry or wine (if using) and cook until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the rosemary and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and the chickpeas and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the hot chili sauce to taste, season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Puree partially with an immersion blender, making sure to leave some of the chickpeas whole and/or lumpy (see Note). You can tuck it in the fridge at this point and reheat it before serving. Stir in the lemon juice. Finish each bowl of soup with a squirt of hot sauce, a light drizzle of olive oil, and/or sprinkle of grated cheese.

Notes

If you want to pulse the soup in a blender or food processor instead of using an immersion blender, go ahead. Just make sure not to fill the appliance more than halfway full, or the hot liquid could cause the top to pop off and splatter hot soup everywhere.
How to Cook Cicerchie Beans
  1. Soak the dried cicerchie in a generous amount of water to cover for 12 to 24 hours, allowing enough room for them to double in size as they soak.
  2. Drain, then transfer them to a large pot and add cold water to cover them by at least 3 inches.
  3. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour until tender.
  4. Drain and use in this soup recipe, or use in other recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 141kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 1324mg, Potassium: 375mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 2559IU, Vitamin C: 28mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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