Minestra di Ceci e Maiale

Chickpea and Pork Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This dish, which originates from Le Marche, is one of those robust cold-weather soups that are designed to fill hungry stomachs in the depths of a bitter winter, where the only heating comes from the kitchen fireplace. Guaranteed to provide much sustenance and comfort, it is filling and satisfying, as well as wonderfully warming. Made with a variety of the most basic of local ingredients that are available to even the poorest of families, this soup, and many others like it, relies on long, gentle cooking to draw out the depth and mixture of flavours and to keep the meat from becoming stringy and tough.


  • 275 g/10 oz/1 ½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 45-60 ml/3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 200 g/7 oz prosciutto crudo, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 pork ribs
  • 200 g/7 oz escarole or bitter leaves, such as endive/US chicory
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 225 g/8 oz passata/bottled strained tomatoes
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • freshly grated pecorino cheese and toasted crusty bread, thinly sliced, to serve


  1. Rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a large pan and cover them plenty of water. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse again.

  2. Return the chickpeas to the pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and boil gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole and fry the prosciutto, garlic and onion until soft. Add the fresh parsley and cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the pan. Stir well to allow the chickpeas to combine, then add 2 litres/3 pints/9 cups water and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour.

  5. Cut the meat from the pork ribs, and then cut it into rough chunks.
  6. Bring the soup back to the boil and, as soon as it reaches boiling point, add the bitter leaves, celery, pork meat and bones to the pan. Stir, then add the passata and season to taste. Stir once more and cover tightly with a lid.

  7. Leave the soup to simmer over the lowest possible heat for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  8. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and toasted bread.