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I am going to share some goodness tonight of an uncommon variety. When fall is here, there is no comfort food like a nice bowl of soup. Normally, I am going to guess that if you say the word “chickpea” to your family, you will get a less than enthusiastic response. At least from the under 10 set. Michael and I love them. Hummus, sprinkled on salads, what have you. I was tooling around the Williams Sonoma site and found this recipe that I adapted for my own. I fed it to my fussy eater, and he actually liked it! I thought that pureeing a portion of the chickpeas was a brilliant feature of this recipe. The puree thickens the soup without having to add corn starch or flour, plus it has way more flavor.

2 cans (28 oz.) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 cups chicken broth
3 tb olive oil
3 oz. pancetta, bacon, or proscuitto, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped (you can also substitute onion or leeks)
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp dried sage
2 tb minced fresh thyme (you can also used dried)
3 tb coarsely chopped, fresh, Italian parsley
2 tbs tomato paste
1/4 lb (roughly 1 cup) ditali or other small pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, bring chickpeas to a boil in the chicken broth. Reduce heat, and simmer until they are soft – about 15 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the chickpeas from the pot, and puree. Return to the simmering chickpeas. Stir in the tomato paste.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté the meat, shallots and garlic in 3 tb of olive oil. When it’s caramelized – nice and golden, add to the broth mixture. Increase heat, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.

Tip: It’s important in a soup like this to remove it from the heat before you really think the pasta is done. The pasta will continue to absorb the liquid and keep cooking even after you’ve turned off the burner. If you leave it on too long, you’ll have mushy pasta.

Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and if you’re feeling daring, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.