Crema di Ceci with Porcini & Pine Nuts

I could have called it creamy chickpea soup or cream of garbanzo bean, but I didn’t want to scare you off by using a name that sounds like it belongs on a can of condensed soup or as if it relies heavily on cream.   No, I’m better off calling it by it’s Italian name- Crema di Ceci.  Say it with me- “chay-chee”.  Much better, right?  Now this simple soup has a bit of intrigue, sounds a little more exotic,  a lot more delicious.  Good enough to necessitate opening a bottle of red wine.  How many other bean soups can do that?

Sometimes it’s all in the branding and I want you to make this, after all.  And you have no reason not to!  In addition to being downright tasty, this soup is warming, nourishing, and healthy.  It’s vegan without even thinking about it, getting all its creaminess from the pureed legumes.  It is easy to make as long as you remember to get your beans soaking the night before (and have some nice vegetable stock on hand) but if you want to cheat and use canned chickpeas, your secret is safe with me.

This soup, like most pureed soups, is delicious as is but a little garnish is always welcome to provide a contrast of textures and flavors.  Since today we gave this soup a charmingly Italian name, we’ll go that route on the garnish by adding Porcini and Crimini mushrooms and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Flavor still life…or natura morta, if you prefer.  Onions, herbs, mushrooms, garlic, pignoli.

Let’s get this soup underway.  Cook your beans.  You get an hour of downtime.  You could use this time to make vegetable stock or mix up a quick batch of foccacia.  Your soup would appreciate either gesture.

Like I said, there is nothing difficult about making this soup.  We’ll get some onions into the pot, let ’em sweat, let them get a little color.  Add garlic, a dab of tomato paste.

Toss in your cooked beans, cover with stock.  Let it bubble away for an hour.  Make yourself a cup of tea and relax; this soup doesn’t need a babysitter.

When the beans are super tender and creamy, you are ready to puree.  I used my new immersion blender to get the job done but you could toss it in the food processor and buzz ’til smooth.






Soup’s ready.  Now let’s garnish.

I wish I could get my hands on some fresh Porcini mushrooms, but they’re a little hard to come by in these parts and if I were to find them, I’m sure they would be prohibitively expensive.  Instead, we’ll soak some dried Porcini in hot water and make them do double time, sautéing them with the Crimini and adding their soaking liquid to the soup to make it even earthier and more aromatic.

Sauté sliced Crimini mushrooms and add the soaked Porcini.  Let them get in touch with their dark side.  Splash in a little Marsala, add a sprinkling of herbs.

Ladle up your soup, top with mushrooms, toss on pine nuts.  Bam.  Dinner.  Done.

Crema di Ceci with Porcini and Pine Nuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I've used mushrooms as a garnish in this recipe but you could customize this basic pureed chickpea soup with a sprinkling of spiced nuts,a dab of truffle butter, fried chickpeas, shaved Parmesan, crispy prosciutto, herb infused oil, garlic croutons...
Serves: 4-6
  • 1½ c. Dried Chickpeas (Ceci Beans, Garbanzo Beans), soaked overnight
  • 4 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 small or 1 medium White Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Tomato Paste
  • 4 c. Vegetable Stock
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage
  • Lemon Juice, to taste (optional)
  • ¼ c. Dried Porcini Mushrooms (reconstituted with boiling water, water reserved)
  • 1 c. Fresh Crimini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms, cut into thick slices
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Dry Marsala
  • 1 T. Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
  • 2 T. Pine Nuts (pignoli), toasted
  1. Drain and rinse soaked chickpeas. Place in medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a halved onion, sage leaves, and bay leaf for additional flavor, if desired. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Skim any foam that rises to the top. Cook beans about 1 hour, until tender. Remove from heat, remove onion, sage and bay leaves, season with salt. Do not drain.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, warm 3 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until golden. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and tomato paste, stir to coat onions and allow tomato paste to get a little darker.
  3. Add beans with cooking liquid and stock. Tuck in a couple sprigs of rosemary and a few sage leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.
  4. Simmer soup 1 - 1½ hours until chickpeas are very tender and creamy. Remove from heat, remove rosemary and sage leaves, and allow to cool slightly before pureeing.
  5. Puree soup in pot using an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or conventional blender.
  6. For the mushroom garnish, heat 1 T. olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add Crimini mushrooms, saute until they have released liquid and are dark brown. Add soaked Porcini mushrooms and garlic, season with salt. Add Marsala, allow mushrooms to absorb. Remove from heat, season with black pepper, some chopped rosemary and parsley.
  7. Meanwhile, reheat pureed soup, thinning with Porcini soaking water. Season with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon juice if acidity is needed.
  8. Ladle soup into warmed bowls. Top with sauteed mushrooms and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.


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