Chefs' Recipes

Zuppa di ceci e grano pestato (Chickpea soup and crushed grains)

Australian Gourmet Traveller Italian soup recipe for zuppa di ceci e grano pestato (Chickpea soup and crushed grains) by Sabino Matera.

By Sabino Matera
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 40 mins cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 8
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Zuppa di ceci e grano pestato (Chickpea soup and crushed grains)
"Chickpeas and wheat are really common ingredients throughout Puglia, from the north of the peninsula in Foggia to Salento in the deep south of the region. As the weather gets cooler, this thick soup/dip is a great warm-up starter." You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


Pesto Pugliese
  • 2½ cups (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley
  • 50 gm caperberries (about 20), stems removed
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Zuppa di ceci
  • 300 gm small organic dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
Grano pestato
  • 400 gm farro perlato (see note)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30 gm wild rocket (optional)


  • 1
    For pesto Pugliese, pulse ingredients (except oil) in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add oil in a thin, steady stream until mixture is finely chopped, season liberally with freshly ground pepper, then cover and refrigerate until required. Makes 300ml.
  • 2
    For zuppa di ceci, remove and discard skins from chickpeas and rinse under cold running water. Place in a saucepan with stock, herbs, garlic, oil and 300ml water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and cook until chickpeas are very tender (35-40 minutes). Reserve 1 cup chickpeas, then coarsely purée remaining chickpeas with a potato masher or hand-held blender, season to taste, stir through reserved chickpeas, thin with extra stock or water if desired, and keep warm.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for grano pestato, rinse farro and lightly pound with a mortar and pestle. Sauté garlic and chilli in oil until softened (3-4 minutes). Add farro and 1 tsp salt, then add 800ml hot water, a little at a time, until liquid has been absorbed and farro is al dente (20-25 minutes). Remove from heat and stir through rocket, if using, until wilted.
  • 4
    Ladle zuppa di ceci into serving bowls, top with grano pestato and serve with pesto Pugliese to taste.


Note Farro perlato is available from select delicatessens and David Jones food halls. This recipe is from the May 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Drink Suggestion: Cantele Rosato Negroamaro. Drink suggestion by Sabino Matera