Anne's Blog

Peppa’s Zuppa di Cicerchie

Date: December 19, 2014 - categories: , , , - 10 Comments

Peppa might not know that cicerchie (translated as “chicklings” or “pulses”) were cultivated in Mesoptamia as early as 8000 BC or that this legume is now recognized officially by the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture as a “a product of Italy’s traditional agriculture,” but she certainly knows how to cook them: no one makes a zuppa di cicerchie to rival Peppa’s. A pot of the soup was simmering on her wood stove when I arrived recently for lunch, slices of bread for bruschetta near the pot of simmering soup. Wild chicory Peppa had foraged in the fields was sautéeing in her family olive oil with garlic from her garden.

Stirring the chicory, toasting the bread

Stirring the chicory, toasting the bread

Peppa added a pinch of salt to the zuppa, broke up the toasted bread into our bowls, drizzled olive oil over the bruschetta, and then spooned on the zuppa di cicerchie, rich in potatoes, seasoned with sage and garlic, a splash of homemade tomato sauce. As we shared the savory soup, Peppa reminisced about her life on the land as a child of poor farmers. Like most of our rural neighbors of her age, her schooling ended in third grade: the labor of everyone was needed on the land.

A pinch of salt needed

A pinch of salt needed

Peppa likes her soup over bruschetta

Peppa likes her soup over bruschetta

Peppa remembers hard years on the land as she savors her soup

Peppa remembers hard years on the land as she savors her soup

“We ate a lot of cicerchie in those days – a hearty soup was breakfast about 9 o’clock – after we’d been working the fields since dawn.” The rural breakfast soup was always a legume: fave, lentils, fagioli, chickpeas – or cicerchie. Central Italy’s farmers once cultivated le cicerchie in abundance as this “poor man’s” legume needs no fertilizer, resists parasites and survives in droughts. With a subtle flavor, almost a cross between fagiolo (Italian variety of a a dried bean) and chickpeas, la cicerchia has a vaguely quadrangular shape – and very irregular form. You’ll never find two cicerchie alike. The expressions, “just like two peas in a pod” can’t be used for this legume!

"Room for more?"

“Room for more?”

Cicherchie, no two the same

Cicherchie, no two the same

Peppa will be eating cicerchie fairly often this winter: the wood stove is fired up daily and the stovetop is perfect for simmering soups. And Peppa affirms that the rule to good health is legumes three times weekly. But she no longer has to eat her legume soups in the morning for the energy needed for the fatiguing day ahead…

Read about more about Peppa and our dear rural friends
Click here for more on the wisdom of our rural friends
Read about a special Umbrian sweet Peppa makes in November
Read about Peppa’s wine-making
Read about Peppa’s wine lore
Click for more on Peppa’s wine and a sacred rural tradition
Read about Peppa’s bread salad
Read about Peppa’s celebration of her new olive oil
Read about Peppa celebrating chestnuts, new wine and new olive oil
Read about learning to make a traditional bread with Peppa
Read about hunting chicory with Peppa
Read about how Peppa can take off the evil eye!
Click here to read about Peppa’s Easter cheese breads
Read about Peppa and the rural rite of veglia
Read about the joy of feasting with Peppa

10 Comments

  • Gretchen says:

    Hello to Peppa and to you, Anne. Merry Christmas and hope to see you in the new year. Please send everyone our very best.

  • carol weed lundin says:

    ah, a nice bowl of that soup would be the perfect touch to the snow falling (finally) but i’ll make do with the enticing pictures and fabulous descriptions. as i often must, i will live your moment vicariously!

  • Janey says:

    How is it that every time you make a new post about Peppa, she just looks younger and younger??! When I sat with her that day at her house surrounded by chickens, I remember being in awe of her skin…so smooth, so bright, ageless. And here it is, 2 yrs later, and she looks even younger!!!! You tell her I said that. I can hear her chuckle right now!!!!!
    Soup looks amazing!

  • Silvana from Rome says:

    Cara Anne,la prossima volta che vengo ad Assisi spero di poter assaggiare la zuppa di cicerchie.Salutami tanto Peppa.

  • Joan Halperin says:

    Yummy!

  • Sally Walters says:

    Ah, Peppa! The original fountain of youth and all goods things from the earth!
    Happy New Year and prayers that 2015 brings us all together again.

  • Janet says:

    Voglio assaggiare la zuppa di cicerchie di Peppa la prossima volta.
    Buon Natale a tutti.

  • paulette carnicelli pidcock says:

    I love your blog Anne – always wonderfully enriching stories of Italian culture and foods!! Best wishes for a 2015 filled with great travel and adventure. See you in March!!

  • Stephanie Webb says:

    Anne, your description of the soup & bread w/ olive oil had my mouth watering! I had this overwhelming urge to hop on a plane & sit at Peppa’s table to enjoy her delicious soup & her very special company. looking at photos of her just makes me smile and makes me a little sad because I so enjoyed meeting her & sharing several meals with the 2 of you, miss you both. I love your blog, it keeps Assisi alive in my memories.

  • Lyn Beckenham says:

    Great photos of Peppa! It’s like a movie film seeing one ofter the other of her in cooking action & then enjoying the result. Made me feel I was right there.

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