top of page

Chickpea Soup - Roman Style

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Chickpea soup is the quintessential example of “cucina povera” - literally translated as “poor kitchen” in Italian. This category of cuisine refers to economic but nutritious meals popularized during the depression, when access to meat protein was in short supply. Like clam chowder, which has a Manhattan version characterized by a tomato base, and New England clam chowder which has a cream base, chickpea soup has both a tomato based version and a “white” version. The tomato based version is indigenous to southern Italian regions, while the white/anchovy based version originated in Rome.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Active Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


2 quarts water

2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

2 sprigs rosemary, tied with string

1 parmesan rind (optional)

1 4” piece kombu (optional)

2-3 bay leaves

5 cloves garlic divided

½ cup olive oil

1 small onion chopped

2 stalks celery diced

3 anchovy filets, mashed

½ pound small gluten free pasta such as ditalini, farfalle or spaghetti cut into 1 inch pieces

½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Pour water into a large stock pot or Dutch oven.

Add chickpeas, rosemary sprigs, parmesan rind, kombu (optional), bay leaves and 2 cloves whole garlic smashed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a small frying pan saute the onions, celery and remaining cloves of garlic (crushed) for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent, but not brown. Remove from heat.

Crush mashed anchovies. Add to onion/celery mix.

In a separate saucepan boil salted water for pasta. After water has come to a boil, cook pasta until al dente, and then drain and pour in a separate bowl. Do not mix directly with soup, as the pasta will soak up the soup broth and thicken it to the consistency of a stew.

After chickpeas have simmered for 30 minutes, add the onion/celery/anchovy mix. Remove rosemary sprig, kombu and parmesan rind.

Add pasta to individual soup bowls and ladle soup into bowls. Top with romano cheese and serve.


bottom of page