Pasta e ceci, pronounced pasta eh cheh-chee, is a traditional Italian dinner of pasta with chickpeas, rosemary, and vegetables. This weeknight-friendly recipe is the best kind of comfort food—nourishing and cozy. 

Two bowls of pasta e ceci with rosemary garnished on top.
Photo Credits: Katherine Irwin

Pasta e ceci has become popular in recent years but it’s been a favorite of mine ever since I was a young child, and my own kids love it too! My version stars ditalini (small tube) pasta, plus nutrient-rich chickpeas, carrots, celery, tomato, and lots of fresh rosemary. We love to enjoy it as a one-dish dinner. Or, we pair it with a colorful Caprese salad or Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad depending on the season.

This pasta with chickpeas recipe hails from Rome and southern Italy, where chickpeas grow in abundance. My mother, who was from Abruzzo on Italy’s Adriatic coast, made pasta e ceci often for a quick and nutritious weeknight dinner. It’s vegetarian, full of hearty flavor, and packed with an abundance of vegetables.

Pasta e ceci is one of those accommodating recipes that you can vary according to your own taste. I like ditalini pasta’s small size as it’s the perfect shape for scooping up into a spoon, but any short and sturdy pasta works.

I love to add loads of finely chopped fresh rosemary, like my mom did. But you can substitute any fresh assertive herb, such as parsley, sage or even mint. Use more broth for soupy pasta e ceci, less for a denser version.

Table of Contents
  1. Pasta e Ceci Ingredients
  2. How to Make Pasta with Chickpeas 
  3. What to Serve with Pasta e Ceci
  4. How to Store Leftover Pasta
  5. You'll Also Like: Vegetarian Pasta Recipes
  6. Recommended For This Recipe: Nocellara
  7. Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas) Recipe
Ingredients for pasta e ceci, including pasta, salt, red pepper flakes, olive oil, carrots, tomato, rosemary, celery, chickpeas, onion, garlic, and parmesan.


Pasta e Ceci Ingredients

This pasta with chickpeas recipe uses humble ingredients to make a dish that’s hearty, comforting, and nutritious. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas are convenient and can certainly be used, but your pasta e ceci will have more flavor and texture if you cook your own.
  • Olive oil: I use a generous glug of high-quality, medium-intensity extra-virgin olive oil, like our Italian Nocellara, to start the soup and gently sauté the vegetables. At serving time, I drizzle a thread of robust olive oil, like our Spanish Hojiblanca, over each serving.
  • Aromatics: Garlic, rosemary, and a small hot pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes—either works. These aromatics really boost the flavor of the soup, and they pair well with the mild, nutty flavor of chickpeas. Salt enhances the flavor. 
  • Vegetables: Carrot, celery, and onion are the so-called “holy trinity” of many Italian soup and stew recipes.
  • Tomatoes: Chopped or finely diced canned tomatoes add depth and a hit of acidity.
  • Water or broth: I use water or vegetable broth for this soup, but chicken broth also works.
  • Parmesan rind: I save all my Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds in a container in the freezer. It’s an umami flavor bomb that brings all the other flavors together.
  • Pasta: I like to use ditalini, which translates to “little fingers.” A small tubular pasta with a hollow center, it’s easy to spoon up and appeals to both kids and adults—at least this adult!
Side shot of pasta e ceci in a bowl on a marble countertop with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. You can see the broth pooling around the pasta


How to Make Pasta with Chickpeas 

Pasta e ceci is simple to make and it comes together quickly, especially if you have cooked chickpeas on hand. Here are the steps: 

  • Prepare the chickpeas. If you’re starting with dried chickpeas, follow the instructions here—I use the quick-soak method. You’ll need 2 cups cooked chickpeas for this recipe or one 15-ounce can. If you're using canned chickpeas, strain them over a bowl to reserve both the chickpeas and their liquid.
  • Sauté the vegetables and aromatics. Meanwhile, finely chop the carrot, celery, and onion and cook them in olive oil, along with a crushed garlic clove, until softened. Stir in finely chopped fresh rosemary and a pinch of hot pepper.Carrot, onion, celery, red chili flakes, and rosemary in a pot.
  • Add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Stir in 1 cup of tomato passata and the chickpeas, plus a ladleful of water, broth, or chickpea cooking liquid. If you want to thicken the broth a bit, set aside ½ cup chickpeas and purée them with a splash of their cooking liquid and pour this into the soup.Pot of pasta e ceci after the broth and canned tomatoes have been added.
  • Simmer. Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat. Cover partially and simmer for a few minutes until the tomato purée is partly cooked and the liquid has reduced to a saucy consistency.
  • Pour in water or broth and add the parmesan rind. If you have additional chickpea cooking liquid, add it, along with enough water or broth to make 6 cups in total (or add I’m 6 cups of water or broth). Add a generous pinch of salt and toss in the parmesan rind.Wooden spoon showing a parmesan rind being added to a pot of pasta e ceci.
  • Add the pasta. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add 2 cups of ditalini pasta. Return the soup to a boil and cook until the pasta is just tender. You can adjust the amount of liquid depending on whether you prefer a thicker or thinner soup.Pot of pasta e ceci after the pasta has cooked. There is more parmesan cheese and bread on the side.
  • Add the finishing touch and serve. Ladle the pasta e ceci into bowls, drizzle each serving with your best extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
Overhead shot of a bowl of pasta e ceci with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and parsley, parmesan, and bread on the side.


What to Serve with Pasta e Ceci

I make pasta e ceci all year long, but my favorite time to make it is in late summer, when I serve it with Caprese Salad. In cooler months, I love to serve big bowls of this soup, with a simple salad, like this Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad, on the side.


How to Store Leftover Pasta

Store any leftover pasta with chickpeas in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Add a splash of broth or water to loosen the soup as it heats. The pasta will continue to absorb liquid and lose its al dente (firm) texture. But it will still be delicious.

You'll Also Like: Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop.

Buttery smooth Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil from hand-picked, cold-extracted Nocellara olives.

A bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
4.94 from 15 votes

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

Domenica Marchetti
Overhead shot of a bowl of pasta e ceci with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and parsley, parmesan, and bread on the side.
One of Italy’s favorite comfort food dishes, pasta e ceci is easy to make, hearty and healthful and full of robust flavor. Serve it as a first course, or as a main course for a nutritious weeknight dinner.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 45 minutes
Total – 55 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 fresh chili pepper (or a generous pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas in their liquid (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas and their cooking liquid)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced or chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups water, vegetable, or chicken broth
  • 1 parmesan rind, plus freshly grated parmesan for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta (or small, short pasta of your choice)

Instructions
 

  • Sauté the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium. Once shimmering, stir in the garlic, carrot, celery, and onion. Cook on medium to medium-low to avoid scorching the onion and garlic until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the rosemary and chili pepper or red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Simmer the chickpeas. Stir in the chickpeas, along with a ladleful of their cooking broth (or the liquid from the can). Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, then cover partially and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced to a saucy consistency, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Make the broth. Add 6 cups of liquid–this can be water, broth, chickpea cooking liquid, or a combination. Add the parmesan rind and season with a pinch or two of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are completely soft and the parmesan rind has softened about 20 minutes.
  • Add the pasta. Stir in the pasta and boil gently for about 15 minutes, until the pasta is just tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle your best olive oil over each serving. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Video

Notes

  • I like to use a medium bodied extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing, then a more robust variety for finishing. 
  • If you like a thicker broth, puree ½ cup of the chickpeas with a splash of cooking liquid or water and stir this mixture into the pot along with the whole chickpeas (step 2).
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 353.3kcalCarbohydrates: 53.1gProtein: 10.6gFat: 11.1gSaturated Fat: 1.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 6.9gCholesterol: 0.1mgSodium: 179.5mgPotassium: 296.7mgFiber: 5.1gSugar: 3.2gVitamin A: 1793.6IUVitamin C: 13.3mgCalcium: 55.1mgIron: 1.7mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

Domenica Marchetti is the author of eight books on Italian home cooking, including "Williams-Sonoma Everyday Italian," “Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions,” and “The Glorious Pasta of Italy.” When she's not writing or creating recipes, Domenica teaches Italian cooking classes on Zoom and leads occasional small-group culinary tours and workshops in Italy.
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.
4.94 from 15 votes (10 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Great weeknight dinner! says:

    5 stars
    Very tasty. Used dried chick peas cooked in rice cooker and the leftover water. Fresh frozen rosemary twig taken out at the end was fantastic. Used the whole box of dilatini to make sure to get one more lunch out of it. Don't miss meat at all. Very filling. Great use of pantry staples

    1. TMD Team says:

      So glad you loved it!

  2. Kaileigh says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was SO delicious! I didn’t have Parmesan on hand, so went without, and it was glorious even without it! Thank you so much for this recipe. My family loved it and I’ll definitely be making it again!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Love to hear this, Kaileigh. Thank you!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    I really loved this! I was surprised how good the leftovers were too! Will be making again!

  4. Linkslvr2 says:

    4 stars
    This was good, but much soupier than the picture would indicate. I will reduce liquid by 1-2 cups to get more of a stew next time. The rosemary added an interesting, subtle flavor.

  5. Amy says:

    Hmmm...I asked questions for modifications on this recipe but it seems they have been deleted.

    I can't find the recommended pasta. Can I use elbows or shells? Also, what can I use in place if Parmesan rinds?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Amy. Yes, either elbows or shells will work well here. In place of parmesan rinds, you can try Pecorino Romano rind, or you can even experiment with some freshly grated parmesan. If necessary in a pinch, you can always just omit it as well. Hope you give the soup a try!

      1. Amy says:

        Thanks so much for the response! This recipe was on my meal plan this week and it looks so yummy! 😊 My family doesn't eat cow's milk but have been able to find a goat's milk hard cheese from Spain that has been a great substitute but it has a wax rind. I'll try experimenting with just perhaps adding some of this cheese shredded. Thanks again for the reply! We only use the recipes now from TMD to plan our meals! 😘

  6. Cathy Brown-Swanton says:

    5 stars
    Just made the Pasta e Ceci and it is delicous . Fresh Rosemary is incredible in this soup. delicious!!

    1. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Cathy! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and let us know. If you're looking for another delicious soup recipe made with chickpeas you might want to try this Lablabi recipe.

  7. Amy says:

    This recipe appears in my meal plan for the week, but I would have to make a couple of modifications and wondered if I could get some clarification. We have some family members who are gluten intolerant and use gluten free pasta here at home. I'm not sure I can find a gluten free version of the ditalini pasta. Would gluten free elbow macaroni pasta work? Also, we use goat's milk cheese and have found a good hard goat's milk cheese from Spain that is a good substitute for Parmesan, but I'm sure the rind is covered in wax and wouldn't want to use. Could I just melt slices of our cheese in Step 4 with the pasta?

    Thank you! It looks like a tasty recipe and I hope to give it a try with these simple modifications. 🙂

    1. Amy says:

      I also have gluten free shells