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Recipe: Chestnut and Garbanzo Bean Soup

It was Thanksgiving in Los Angeles, but I was in Poggia Picenze, a small village just a few miles from the Gran Sasso in L’Aquila.  My window at Osteria della Posta di Stefano Cardelli displayed an unforgettable view of the freshly snow-covered Gran Sasso.  The fabulous chef/nonna Gabriella in a torrent of hospitality prepared for me this delicious and hearty soup to honor our American holiday.  When I asked her for the recipe, she said, “castagne, ceci, l’acqua, stop!”  I couldn’t believe so much flavor could come from such simple ingredients, but boy was she right!

My big blue sky! My big blue sky!

Garbanzo and Chestnut Soup 

Ingredients

4 quarts water (1 quart for soaking, 3 quarts for soup)
1/2 pound dry garbanzo beans (soak overnight in 1 quart of water) or 2 15 ounce cans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 pound fresh chestnuts  (slit and roasted)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
Red chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Chestnuts: open fire optional. Chestnuts: open fire optional.

Cook the Ceci

I use dried garbanzo beans, but if you don’t have the time then you may certainly use canned.

Drain the garbanzo beans. Heat a pot with 3 quarts of water and just before it boils, add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the garbanzo beans, simmer and cook until tender (about 20 minutes.)  Skip this step if you’re using the canned variety.

Roast the Castagne

Nothing compares to the nutty sweet taste and texture of freshly roasted chestnuts, so as far as I am concerned there is no substitute.  

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees.  With a sharp paring knife, slit the chestnuts in a crosshatch about 1/8′ and work around the circumference.  Roast the chestnuts (open fire optional) for 30 minutes. While still warm, remove the shell and brown papery second skin and discard.  Chop coarsely.

Chestnuts must be slit before roasting or they are very likely to explode in the oven. Chestnuts must be slit before roasting or they are very likely to explode in the oven.

  • Add chestnuts to the cooking water containing the garbanzo beans.  
  • Simmer over  low heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Add more water if necessary to prevent drying.  
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic oil drizzle

In a small frying pan, add the oil, chopped garlic and chili pepper and bring up to a saute heat slowly.  Saute until the garlic becomes golden. Pour the garlic oil into a strainer to separate the solids and go ahead and to pour the oil into the soup.

Chestnuts, garbanzo beans, water, stop! Chestnuts, garbanzo beans, water, stop!

Enjoy!

This simple and absolutely delicious soup should be enjoyed hot with some crusty bread or as an antipasto.  If you don’t finish it in one sitting, which is highly unlikely, it’s also fun to puree your leftovers into a chestnut hummus.  Show us your incarnation of Gabriella’s Zuppa di Ceci e Castagne today!

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