When you decide to make this magnificent Tuscan soup, you need to put the chickpeas in plenty of cold water the evening before (they need to soak for at least 12 hours). The following morning, strain them, put them in clean cold water with a pinch of coarse salt and bring to the boil over a moderate heat. They must boil for at least two hours and need to be well cooked. When they have cooled down, put ¾ of the chickpeas through a vegetable mill; add a little of the water they were cooked in to make sure they pass smoothly. In a heavy-bottomed pan, sauté the peeled garlic and a sprig of rosemary in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. As soon as the garlic begins to colour, add the puréed chickpeas and 1 or 2 ladles of the water they were cooked in. When finished the soup should be thick and creamy, therefore add water accordingly. Bring it back to the boil, add the remaining chickpeas and the other sprig of rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the Pappardelle (1) directly in this thick soup. Here the pasta is usually broken up by hand so that it cooks easier, and also to help avoid the soup sticking to the bottom of the pan. If you prefer to leave long pasta whole, the trick is to cook it separately and then add it to the boiling soup, stirring well, before taking it off the heat. Leave the soup to rest for 15-20 minutes and then serve, seasoning each portion with some freshly ground pepper and at least a spoonful of olive oil. If you like you can also add some grated Parmigiano or pecorino, but the flavour of this soup is best enjoyed without cheese.
- This is the pasta most commonly used in Tuscany, but egg pasta tagliatelle or tagliolini (very thin ribbons), linguine broken up by hand, mini tubettini or other small, short pasta shapes are also very good in chickpea soup.