Remember Jack who sold the family cow for a few beans — and they turned out to be a magical variety? When you think of fava beans, think of the old English children’s classic, “Jack and the Beanstalk” kind of beans. Yes, these are most likely the original fairy tale legumes.
Fava beans never quite caught on in America, maybe because we have so many varieties of legumes and grains otherwise. But these large, brown beans have been around a long, long time and are one of the earliest plants ever cultivated. In the Old World, they were the only bean that Europeans consumed until they came to America and took our varieties home with them and began planting them as well. The English call them broad beans, and they are also known as Windsor beans, horse beans, and pigeon beans.
It seems the whole world has been eating fava beans for centuries and centuries. They have always been extremely popular here in the Mid East and used in Mediterranean cuisine. Today they are very available and inexpensive. I love the taste — very flavorful and rustic — more tasty than any bean I have ever eaten.
We are in Jerusalem now, and I found a package of dried beans in the kitchen cupboard. Today is as good as any day to use them. They are a bit labor intensive because they must be par-boiled and then shelled and boiled again. But I rather enjoyed the process this morning, especially with not much else on hand at the moment.
I rinsed and par-boiled them and then put some classical music on and began shelling my fava beans to the tune of “Midnight Sonata.” Sometimes a quiet morning and a simple task with your hands is very therapeutic. Joy. Joy. The mindless work with desired purpose sort of released a few burdens that I didn’t even realize I had ben carrying. I really enjoyed making this soup today!
So here’s my recipe for Cream of Fava Bean Soup. And It turned out great. My hubby said it made him swallow his tongue!
It’s Valentine’s Day. So… it’s my heartfelt gift to the love of my life.
Cream of Fava Bean Soup
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. shelled fava beans (frozen or dried and boiled)
1 clove garlic
7 cups water
1 chicken bullion cube
½ cup half and half
Place the water, onion, carrot, potatoes, fava beans, and garlic in a large sauce pan. Cook over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until all the veggies and beans are tender. Puree the soup using a stick blender or blender. Stir in ½ cup cream or half and half (milk or reduced fat milk may be used, but not as rich) and bullion cube. Heat on low until cube is melted. Taste and add pepper and salt if needed. Garnish with chopped green onions or dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of powdered paprika or chili powder.
I didn’t have green onions to garnish or paprika. Next time…