1/8 pound prosciutto or ham, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1 large clove garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons rosemary, fresh or dried
1/4 cup olive oil
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans chick-peas, drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 4-inch square piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano® rind (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 cup small pasta tubes (ditali)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano®
How to make Pasta and Chick-pea Soup:
By hand or in a food processor, finely chop together prosciutto or ham, red onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary. Set a 3 quart soup kettle over medium heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the chopped mixture and cook 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.
Place tomatoes and their juice into a food processor and chop coarsely. Add to the sauteed vegetables along with the drained chick-peas, chicken broth, tomato paste, bay leaf and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir.
Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the softened Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, cut it into 1/4-inch cubes and return to soup (soup can be made ahead to this point).
Just before serving, add pasta to simmering soup. When pasta is al dente, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.