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Italian Zucchini Soup with Chickpeas

Italian zucchini soup in white bowl with basil pesto, grated cheese and basil sprig garnish, over a yellow towel.
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Italian Zucchini Soup is a great recipe to make all year-round, but especially in prime summer veggie and gardening season when zucchini is in abbondanza. It’s super flavorful and light, yet very satisfying with the flavors of basil, tomatoes, garlic and onions fortified with a sharp pecorino cheese rind, chickpeas and broken capellini pasta.

Italian zucchini soup in white bowl with basil pesto, grated cheese and basil sprig garnish.

Enjoying this Italian Zucchini Soup was a regular occurrence during our hot and humid New Jersey summers growing up. Here in the Garden State (as in many other places), zucchini and other summer squash are in major abundance, so enjoying them in all different way was the way we rolled.

Some of my other favorite recipes with zucchini include Zucchini Fritters, Roasted Neapolitan Zucchini with Mint, Vegetable Caponata Relish and Stuffed Zucchini.

This is a quick (only 30 minutes!) and simple soup recipe to make and it has so much darn flavor! It screams Italy in all of its deliciousness and aroma–I swear that zucchini + tomatoes + basil must be one of the food combinations of the gods!

I added chickpeas to the version of this recipe that my mom always made for increased protein and heartiness, but you can just as easily leave them out. But that broken angel hair pasta is from my family recipe through and through–so nostalgic!

I love that this vegetable soup recipe is very budget-friendly, freezes well and is a complete, satisfying meal when paired with a loaf of crusty bread and a light green salad–ideal summer fare in my humble opinion. You can even serve this soup at room temperature on a hot summer day. And, top it off with a nice dollop of basil pesto if you have some on hand for a real treat! Mangia bene!

Pot of Italian zucchini soup next to bowl full of it.
Ingredients for Italian zucchini soup.

How to Make Italian Zucchini Soup, Step-by-Step

This zucchini soup recipe is a very quick cooking and easy soup to assemble and cook. Here are the steps to make it:

  • Prep and gather all ingredients. Heat oil in a 6-quart (or larger) pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions, half the basil, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until the onions have softened a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • PRO-TIP: You can cover the pot to speed this process along if you want.

  • Add some broth and deglaze. Increase heat to medium and add the rest of the broth, tomatoes, cheese rind, salt, black pepper and zucchini and stir.
    • PRO-TIP: The zucchini can be partially or wholly substituted with yellow (summer) squash.

  • Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. Uncover and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the zucchini is almost tender). Then, stir in the chickpeas and pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring regularly so that the pasta does not clump.
    • PRO-TIP: Add more liquid (water or broth) if the soup becomes too thick.

  • Turn off the heat, remove any remaining cheese rind and stir in the remaining basil.

  • Serve piping hot topped off with a sprinkle of grated pecorino cheese, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and/or a a small dollop of basil pesto, if desired. That’s it!

For more soup recipes, check out my cookbook, SOUPified, Soups Inspired by Your Favorite Dishes, which is filled with innovative soup versions of classic, comfort food recipes, such as Eggplant Parm Soup and Cavatelli with Broccoli Soup.

Substitutions and Variations for Italian Zucchini Soup

  • Use a Different Bean: Borlotti, lentil, navy and cannellini beans are all great alternatives.
  • Add Greens: For a larger variety of veggies in this soup, add bite-sized curly endive, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, swiss chard or kale (or a mixture of these) at the same time as the zucchini. Of, stir in some baby spinach at the very end and cook it long enough to wilt.
  • Pork it up! Brown one pound of Italian sausage (out of its casings) as the first step, then proceed with the recipe, for lots of additional flavor and richness.
  • Add Chicken or Turkey: Add some pulled roasted chicken or turkey meat at the end, a few minutes after the pasta is added, for increased protein.
  • Keep it Simple: Leave out the chickpeas and pasta for a very light and quick brothy soup. You will love it!
  • Make it Vegan: Just be sure to use vegetable broth and leave out the cheese rind.

Zuppa di zucchine in decorative soup bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are zucchini and squash the same thing?

Zucchini is one type of summer squash and is very popular in Italian cooking. Some people actually refer to it as “Italian squash”. Other types of summer squash include crookneck, pattypan and yellow squash–all of these are seasonal in the summer, have edible skin and tender flesh. For more on summer squash varieties, click here.

What is the best way to select zucchini at the market?

Choose zucchini that are firm without any soft spots. Medium to small zucchini usually have the best flavor and less/smaller seeds, whereas very large zucchini have less taste, more water and are better used for baking. Zucchini come in different shapes and colors including solid yellow, dark green, and green with ridges (a.k.a., romanesco zucchini–my favorite variety!)

How should I store zucchini and can I freeze it?

Store raw zucchini in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and be sure to use it within one week. You can freeze grated squash in freezer bags for several months, which is a great idea for all the home gardeners out there that usually have tons of zucchini during the summer.


Italian zucchini soup in white bowl with basil pesto, grated cheese and basil sprig garnish with spoon in bowl.

TOP TIPS FOR ITALIAN ZUCCHINI SOUP

  • Zucchini/Squash: This recipe would also work with other summer squash, such as yellow crookneck, and large, Sicilian cucuzza squash. If using the latter (if you can get your hands on them!), be sure to peel and seed them first and simmer the soup longer as they will take more time to become tender. Also, small/medium-sized zucchini tend to have better flavor and less seeds, so choose them if you have the option.
  • Pasta: Be sure to stay close to the soup and stir it regularly once you add the pasta so that it does not clump or stick. A very thin capellini (broken up), like I used here, or tiny pastina is really best in this soup. I don’t recommend a chunky, thick pasta.
  • Serving Suggestions: This soup is perfect for a light summer lunch and can be paired with a light green salad and some crusty bread. Or, this soup could be served as a first course in a smaller portion and be followed by plate of meatballs or sausage with sautéed broccoli rabe. Don’t forget to serve some homemade chili oil with the soup for all the spicy food lovers around your table! I also love to spoon a dollop of pesto into this soup (as I did here) when I have it and top it with a sprinkling of pecorino cheese and drizzle of good olive oil.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Also, this soup freezes really well. Make a large batch, portion it into containers and freeze for up to three months to enjoy down the road. Reheat it slowly over medium low heat while stirring, adding additional broth or water if needed.

More Great Recipes to Try

I hope that you are enjoying my Italian food blog and all of my Italian recipes and Italian-American recipes!

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Italian zucchini soup in white bowl with basil pesto, grated cheese and basil sprig garnish with spoon in bowl.

Italian Zucchini Soup with Chickpeas

Michele
Italian Zucchini Soup is a great recipe to make all year-round, but especially in prime summer veggie and gardening season when zucchini is in abbondanza. It’s super flavorful and light, yet very satisfying with the flavors of basil, tomatoes, garlic and onions fortified with a sharp pecorino cheese rind, chickpeas and broken capellini pasta.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped or thinly sliced garlic
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 8 cups low- or no-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 pounds zucchini, ends cut off, thin ½ or ¼ moons depending on size
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 pecorino or parmesan rind
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces angel hair or other thin long pasta, broken into bite-sized pieces (1/4 pound)
  • Grated pecorino cheese (optional for serving)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional for serving)
  • Basil pesto (optional for serving)

Instructions
 

  • Prep all ingredients according to specifications above.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
  • Heat oil in a 6-quart (or larger) pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions, half the basil, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until the onions have softened a bit, about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. You can cover the pot to speed this process along if you want.
    ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cups diced yellow onions, ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil,, ¼ cup chopped or thinly sliced garlic, Pinch crushed red pepper
  • Add 2 cups broth and deglaze, scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Then, increase the heat to medium. Add the rest of the broth, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese rind, salt and black pepper and stir.
    8 cups low- or no-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, 3 pounds zucchini,, 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, 1 pecorino or parmesan rind, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
  • Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. Uncover and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the zucchini is almost tender).
  • Then, stir in the chickpeas and pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring regularly so that the pasta does not clump. Turn off the heat, add the remaining basil, and taste and adjust seasoning. Remove any remaining cheese rind.
    1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas,, 4 ounces angel hair
  • Serve piping hot topped off with a sprinkle of grated pecorino cheese, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and/or a a small dollop of basil pesto, if desired. Buon Appetito!
    Grated pecorino cheese, Extra virgin olive oil, Basil pesto

Notes

  • This recipe makes a large pot (about 16 cups) and can easily be cut in half for a smaller batch. (but, it freezes really well!) I figured about 2 cups per serving, but adjust accordingly.
  • There’s no need to peel the zucchini as its skin is very thin and mild.
  • The zucchini can be partially or wholly substituted with yellow (summer) squash. This recipe would also work well with (peeled and seeded) Sicilian cucuzza squash.
  • Add more liquid (water or broth) if the soup becomes too thick.
  • If you prefer a vegan soup, just leave out the cheese rind and be sure to use vegetable broth.
  • Don’t forget to remove any remaining cheese rind before serving.
  • Both the chickpeas and pasta are optional and can be left out for a brothier, thinner and lighter soup. If you leave out the pasta, reduce the broth by about 20%.
  • The soup can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Consider portioning extra soup into containers to enjoy down the road! Reheat it slowly over medium low heat while stirring, adding additional broth or water if needed.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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5 thoughts on “Italian Zucchini Soup with Chickpeas

  1. 5 stars
    Michele I made this soup recipe and it was delish. Thanks for sharing all of your recipes as it makes my life easier when deciding what to cook. Great springtime recipe.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the soup recipe, Roxanne! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I checked my email in the morning, and this recipe was there. I was planning a trip to the Farmers market, and picked up some lovely, small zucchini, and fresh San Marzano tomatoes (grown in California).
    The recipe was very well written and easy to follow. I like the way that Michele instructs you to gather and chop your ingredients before starting. As it simmered there was a very nice aroma in the kitchen… like a visit to Nonna’s.
    The soup was really good, and I am certain that it will be even better reheated.

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Greg! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was great and just like the one my mom used to make. Very easy to follow. Love it-thank you!

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