Anna del Conte’s chickpea and pasta soup version 3.00 (Nigella remix, remixed)

A remix of a remix!

Scroll down for background on where this recipe comes from!


  • 250 g dried chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp flour (I used plain white flour)
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 5 rosemary sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 180 g olive oil (or “a couple generous dashes of oil”)
  • 400 g can of tinned tomatoes
  • 200 g tubular pasta (I used macaroni, she recommends “ditalini”)
  • parmesan cheese
  • ground black pepper
  • also: a muslin bag or cloth to put the rosemary sprigs inside


  1. The night before, mix the bicarbonate of soda, flour and salt in a bowl with a bit of water, then add the chickpeas, mix all well and leave to rest for at least 12 h.
  2. Next day, rinse the chickpeas, then add to the pressure cooker.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves, and add to the pressure cooker.
  4. Add a good glug of olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  5. Add enough water to cover the chickpeas and a couple of centimers above them.
  6. Add the rosemary sprigs, wrapped by the muslin.
  7. Close the cooker, bring the cooker to high pressure and cook for 35 minutes.
  8. When the time is over, turn the heat off and let the valve come down.
  9. Remove the muslin with the rosemary.
    • Nigella suggests removing the garlic cloves, but I left them in—more fibre!
  10. Add the tinned tomatoes to the pressure cooker
    • Here you can also add any random pre-cooked vegetables you have hanging around in your fridge, such as the left-over onion, carrot and half a potato I had with a bit of stock from making a bollit. I mashed them together with a fork and added them to the cooker – they add flavour and thicken the soup.
  11. Add a bit of salt and pepper, adjust until it tastes right to you.
  12. Close the lid and bring to pressure on the medium setting (vegetables) . Then cook for 8-10 minutes. In the meantime you can weight the pasta.
  13. When the time is over, turn the heat off, and wait until the valve comes down.
  14. Open the lid; add a dash of oil (to avoid the pasta getting stuck to the bottom). Bring the soup to a boil, but don’t put the lid on. Add more hot water if you think you’ll need it (I didn’t need to).
  15. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot.
  16. Get the Parmesan cheese out of the fridge.
  17. Cook the pasta until “al dente” or until you like its consistency, carefully stirring from time to time to make sure the pasta does not stick to the bottom. Be careful not to break or smash things—don’t do any vigorous stirring! As I always say, we’re not making a risotto here.
  18. For serving, place portion in bowls, add a dash of olive oil, and top with grated Parmesan and ground black pepper. (The amount depends on whether you’re feeling generous, or Nigella-generous).

Other versions

We were thinking this could be a really good base for other experiments:

  • making it spicy by adding chilli flakes or other spices such as spicy paprika
  • making it Korean-Italian “fusion” by adding kimchi
  • using other legumes such as beans
  • Devvers wanted more of a garlic kick. The original recipe mentioned 12 garlic cloves for double the amount of things, so I reduced in proportion. But maybe it can take more! Or adding a dash of garlicky oil before serving.

Nigella also mentions using thyme instead of rosemary, and eating the “solid” leftovers with zested lemon, but we haven’t tried that yet.

Chickpea and pasta soup in a bowl
Chickpea and pasta soup in a bowl

You could also leave the cheese out if you want to make it vegan, or use vegan melty cheese, but don’t worry if you can’t find one that does not smell of stinky feet: the soup is quite flavourful already. The cheese is just a nice extra.

I also found it a bit of a fuss to add the flour and bicarbonate of soda to the chickpeas the night before. I don’t normally do that when I soak chickpeas, so next time I make this I will skip that step and see what happens. I am using nice Spanish chickpeas so maybe that’s why I don’t feel that is a necessary step… as they say, “your mileage might vary”…


The Financial Times had a “recipes” special last week, where food writers would contribute their favourite recipes from someone else.

There was one that immediately caught my eye: the chickpea and pasta soup recipe from Anna del Conte, chosen by Nigella Lawson.

The original version is provided, but Nigella suggested a few twists and also confessed to making the soup on an electric pressure cooker and also in a slow-cooker as well, instead of the stockpot Anna suggests.

I decided I’d make it on my pressure cooker, and that’s what we had for lunch today! Really scrumptious. Since of course I departed a bit from both recipes, here is my version. Because we will totally want to repeat this recipe! Yum!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.