Bonito flakes lend a nice depth of flavor to this traditional Roman soup but are entirely optional. They can be found in the Japanese section of a good Asian market. If you can’t find them, or prefer a vegetarian soup, don’t worry, the Romans have been enjoying chickpea and pasta soup for centuries without them.
Sun Oven Chickpea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 whole dried hot red pepper
1 sprig rosemary
4 cups previously cooked chickpeas with their cooking liquid
Whole wheat Pasta (shells or fusilli) cooked according to the instructions on the package*
salt to taste
additional olive oil for serving
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Japanese bonito flakes (optional)
Set Sun Oven out to preheat
In a large pot, toss the oil with the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Add the hot pepper and rosemary.
Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven.
Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Discard the rosemary. Stir in the chickpeas with their cooking liquid. Add enough water to cover the chickpeas if needed. Replace the lid and continue cooking until the soup is hot and the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.
Remove from the Sun Oven and transfer to the stove. Keep warm over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Discard the hot pepper. If the soup is too dry stir in some hot water. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the pasta and continue cooking until heated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and bonito if using. Ladle into bowls and drizzle each serving with oil.
*The amount of pasta is up to your personal taste. I like a ratio of about 3 parts soups to 1 part pasta. I only stir the cooked pasta directly into the soup if I’m pretty sure we’re going to eat all of it. Otherwise we each put as much pasta as we want on in our bowl and ladle the hot soup over it.