The general range of dried fava bean (broad bean) soups and purees tend to be gently flavoured – a few herbs, some olive oil. They are delicious, of course, and I have a soup that is a definite Winter favourite. But dried fava beans can also provide a beautiful base for stronger flavours – say, roasted garlic, roasted onion, chilli, some roasted tomatoes, a little acid in the form of cider vinegar. How delicious! This soup makes you think about fava beans in a different way!
There is a recipe in the 15 yr old book Mexican Kitchen, by Rick Bayless, that sparked this recipe. This recipe takes his ingredient palette and tweaks them quite a bit for our kitchen, and for easily available ingredients. It is an impressive soup, perfect for cold winter nights. It will thicken a little on standing, so you may need to thin with a little water if you are making the soup at night for the next day.
There is a smokiness to this dish, because of the roasting of the main flavour ingredients. Also, I used black fava beans which have a slight smokiness about them too. The black colour of these beans is in the skin, so once peeled, they will not turn you soup black! You might come across them if you search, but I was given these by a neighbour who dried his own. (If you want to increase the smokiness of this soup, use smoky paprika instead of the chilli paste.)
Similar dishes include Dried Fava Beans with Onions and Fennel, Mexican Fava Bean Soup with Saffron, Fava Bean Soup with Potatoes, Fava Bean Soup or Dip with Herbs, and Fava Bean Soup with Turmeric and Herbs.
Dried Fava Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic, Mint and Coriander
225g dry fava beans, soaked in salted water, and peeled
4 cups good vegetable stock or water
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large white onion, sliced 0.5 cm thick
300g ripe tomatoes
1 tspn red chilli paste (home made or purchased), or puree 1 – 2 fresh red chillies (or to taste, as they can vary in heat level)
1 Tblspn cider vinegar
0.5 tspn dried oregano
2 Tblspn chopped cilantro
2 Tblspn chopped fresh mint
20g crumbled creamy feta cheese(optional)
1 Tblspn extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
Cover the soaked and peeled fava beans with slightly water, and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, until very tender and falling apart, about 3/4 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220C. On a oven tray lined with baking paper, do the following. Place the garlic cloves at one end. In the middle, place the tomatoes. At the other end, construct a small plate out of foil, place it on the tray, and add the sliced onion on it, making sure it is evenly spread.
Place in the oven, checking every 10 mins, removing the items when they are roasted and tender, allowing the tomatoes to roast and char, and charring the onions a little (turn them over after about 5 minutes).
Cool the garlic a little, and then squeeze the pulp from each clove into a small dish, and set aside. Cool the tomatoes a little then peel and chop roughly, retaining the juices. Leave the onions in rings, or chop those as well.
Add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes to the fava beans with the oregano, chilli paste and cider vinegar, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Add additional water or stock, as necessary, as the beans cook. You want a medium thick fava bean soup.. When cooked, stir in the mint and coriander leaves. Taste, and add salt if needed. Serve in beautiful bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with feta cheese, if desired.
recipe notes and alternatives
I like rustic soups, so chop the tomatoes into 4, and leave the onions in rings. If a smoother soup is preferred, chop the onions finely and puree the tomatoes.