Zuppa di Ceci e Finocchio alla Sarda (Sardinian Chickpea and Fennel Soup)

  • 2 1/2 cups chickpeas
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 large bulb fennel
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fennel leaves
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup tubular pasta

Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and drain.  Trim the fennel, halve it, and slice thinly cross wise.  Chop tomatoes.  In a soup kettle over low heat, warm the oil.  Add the onion, garlic, and the 2 tbsp. of parsley; cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, add the fennel bulb and leaves and the potato and sauté for an additional 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and then the chickpeas and boiling water.  Stir well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add the pasta and continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just tender. Correct for salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in the 1 tsp. parsley and the 1/4 cup cheese.

From The Vegetarian Table: Italy.