Ceci beans (Italian for "chickpeas") are a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. This hearty legume, which has a mild, nutlike flavor, is often used to make soups and stews as well as salads.
1/3 cup diced pancetta or bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked ceci beans
5 cups chicken broth
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Freshly made pesto for serving
In a soup pot over medium-low heat, cook the pancetta, stirring, until golden and crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the sage and tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ceci beans, broth and rosemary and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes.
Remove the rosemary and discard. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth and blended. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of pesto.