Hearty chickpea, pasta soup warms up wintry nights

Chickpeas and orzo make this a hearty soup and a meal in itself. It’s an ancient Roman dish. Complete the meal with warm Cauliflower Salad, another Italian dish, which is from Campania, an area that includes Naples.

Leeks can have dirt inside. An easy way to clean leeks is to make long cuts from the base of the leek to the tip of the leaves forming strips and run cold water through the leaves.

Helpful hints:

  • Acini di pepe or other small pasta can be used instead of orzo.


  • Prepare all ingredients.
  • Start soup.
  • While soup cooks, make cauliflower salad.

Shopping list:

To buy: 1 bunch celery, 1 leek, 1 can reduced-sodium diced tomatoes, 1 can reduced-sodium chickpeas, 1 package orzo, 1 small piece Parmesan cheese, 1 head cauliflower, 1 contained, pitted black olives, 1 large container low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth, 1 bottle reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing and 1 bunch parsley (optional).

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Chickpea and Pasta Soup

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced celery

2 cups sliced leeks

3 cups reduced-sodium diced tomatoes

1 cup canned, reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

1/4 cup orzo

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery and leeks. Saute 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice, cover and cook 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, chicken broth and orzo. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide between two bowls and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Add parsley (optional) and serve.

Yield 2 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 445 calories (20 percent from fat), 9.7 fat (1.8 g saturated, 2.8 g monounsaturated), 4 mg cholesterol, 24.8 g protein, 72 g carbohydrates, 17.7 g fiber, 477 mg sodium.

Warm Cauliflower Salad

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

1/2 head cauliflower, stem removed cut into florets, (about 4 cups)

6 pitted black olives, cut in half

2 tablespoons reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 5 minutes. Remove and add olives and dressing to the bowl. Toss well.

Yield 2 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 80 calories (34 percent from fat), 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 1.4 g monounsaturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 4.3 g protein, 12.1 g carbohydrates, 4.5 g fiber, 164 mg sodium.

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