When I think about my mother, I think about her fava bean soup (fine, and a couple other things too…). That’s how strong an impact that soup has had on me.
But not many people are wild about favas, habas in Spanish. Different from pasta or potatoes, Favas haven’t gone mainstream.
Okay. I can see why.
First, the fact that they come in many forms can be confusing (fresh in their pod, fresh out of the pod, dried with their skin on, or dried and peeled). Also, the ways to cook them in their different forms haven’t been widely publicized. On top of that, favas have a strong flavor that can be overpowering, and to some, hard to bear.
Now, bear with me here. If you know what form of favas to get for which kind of dish, the confusion is almost gone. With the right recipe, the confusion evaporates further and their overpowering flavor is tamed. Thus… beloved cooks, favas become what they must:
filling, rich, wholesome and deliciously intense.
Since we are almost in the middle of winter, and I started talking about my mother’s soup, let’s consider dried favas which can be found year round and store forever in your pantry (fresh ones are found from Spring to Summer).
You can find them with shells on, like these on top. They are pretty, but you need to soak them, cook them and peel them. Quoting my mother: “Ay no Pati, eso de pelar una por una es una monserga” (translates to something like: peeling them one by one is a pain).
If you are looking for a relaxing therapy that will take hours, that’s fine. If you are not, go for the already peeled dried favas, like the ones below. They don’t look as pretty, but have more personality.
Now, drain them and place them in a pot with chicken broth and let them simmer, with the cover ajar, for about 50 to 55 minutes. They will be soft, thoroughly cooked and coming apart. That’s what you want.
See the broth? Its thick and lightly hay colored. Soothing looking already…
Next step, seasoning base: tomatoes, onion and garlic. My mom makes a rustic kind of soup. She chops the tomatoes, onion and garlic, cooks them with a little oil for 5 minutes and adds it to the cooked fava beans and broth.
I prefer a more smooth version of the soup because:
a) It lets me trick my monsters into eating the beans.
b) It looks more fancy if I want to serve it to guests.
c) With this cold, I find it much more comforting.
d) I like creamy things, so let me indulge myself.
So, I puree the fava beans with the broth once they are ready.
Cook that nice and thick puree over medium high heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until it thickens and darkens its color. Which means that the ingredients have seasoned and transformed from having a raw flavor to a cooked one.
Meanwhile, slice some bolillos, teleras or baguettes.
Crown it with some Pasilla chile crisps if you want an extra layer of flavorful crunch (see recipe below).
- 1 pound fava beans peeled and dried
- 12 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 cup white onion roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 3 tablespoons safflower oil corn or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of cumin
- 2 pasilla chiles stemmed, seeded, and cut into small strips and quickly fried
- 6 diagonal slices of bolillo telera or baguette, lightly brushed with oil and toasted
- Olive oil to brush over the toast
- In a bowl, cover the fava beans with cold water and let them soak anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. Drain. Place the lima beans and chicken broth in a large soup pot set over medium heat. Let it come to a medium simmer with the lid ajar and cook until the beans are thoroughly cooked and tender, about 50 to 55 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool a little bit. Puree in batches in the blender. Place in a container or a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes along with the onion and garlic until smooth. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, but not smoking, pour in the tomato puree. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until it deepens in color and thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the lime bean puree. Sprinkle the salt and black pepper, and continue cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes, until all of the flavors have combined.
- Ladle the soup in individual bowls. Garnish with a piece of toast, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkle some crunchy chile strips on top.
- Note: To make the chile crisps, quickly fry the chile pieces in a saute pan with 1/4" oil set over medium heat. Once oil is hot but not smoking, quickly fry the crisps, literally 2 seconds, remove and place on a plate covered with paper towel.