Minestra di cicerchie
Cicerchie are small dried beans that look like miniature broad beans or fave, but they are said to be an older, more primitive form of chick-peas. They have long been associated with la cucina povera. Until recently, cicerchie had almost disappeared in Italy except in a few pockets of rural Umbria, the Campagna outside Rome, and in Puglia. Like many similar foods, they have been rediscovered and lent a certain costly chicness by restaurant chefs. It's not likely that you'll find cicerchie in this country, but the soup is just as tasty made with ceci (chick-peas), fagioli (dried beans of any sort), or fave secche (dried broad beans). Like most bean soups in Puglia, this one may also be served over slices of stale country-style bread, lightly toasted and brushed with a little garlic if you wish.
8 oz (1 cup) dried chick-peas or other dried legumes
Put the chick-peas in a bowl, cover with cool water, and set aside to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Then drain and place in a soup kettle with fresh cold water to cover to a depth of one inch.
Variations: Brown 1 coarsely chopped red onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 1 t red wine vinegar and serve.
Saute 2 oz diced pancetta (or bacon that has been blanched 2 minutes in boiling water) in 1 t olive oil until crisp. Scatter the bacon over the minestra just before serving.