Poor Man's Chickpea Soup


1 carrot
1 white onion
1 stalk celery
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 (2-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight in water and drained or 3 (16 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 smoked ham hock
1 (3-inch) piece Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind (optional)
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Tomato Sauce
8 ounces arugula or mustard greens, stems removed, chopped to yield 2 cups
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Serves 6 to 8

Cut the carrot, onion and celery into chunks. Transfer to a food processor, add the garlic, then process until finely chopped, but not smooth. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small stockpot or dutch oven set on high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chickpeas, ham hock, Parmigiano Reggiano rind, if you wish, chicken stock and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to lowand simmer, covered, for 1 hour. (If using canned beans, simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.)

Remove the ham hock, pull the meat from the bone and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Discard the bay leaf and rosemary. Process half the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return to the pot and add the reserved ham and the arugula. Stir well.

To serve, ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and the cheese.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot Gris