Yid.Dish: The Fabulous Fava

By Alix Wall

Published May 07, 2008.
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Can anyone hear fava beans and not think of Anthony Hopkins?

“I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice chianti.” (The movie is Silence of the Lambs, in case you missed it, and the infamous line was said by Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.)

But references to cannibalism aside, our Tuv Ha’Aretz has started here in Berkeley, and we’ve got more fava beans than we know what to do with. Which, when you get down to it, really isn’t that many at all.

The fava has a lot going for it. Like it’s bean cousins, it is high in protein, fiber and iron and has no cholesterol. In some countries, it has been referred to as the meat of the poor.

The fava is grown and eaten widely around the world, especially in the Middle East. In Egypt, dried favas are commonly used to make ful, a bean stew that is most often eaten for breakfast.

But in North America, they are often left to the domain of high-end restaurants. Why? Because of all the vegetables out there, they are one of the most labor-intensive. First, you must open the pods, and remove the beans. Then, you must briefly boil them (three minutes should be enough). Finally, after allowing them to cool, you must squeeze each one between your pointer finger and thumb, to squeeze out the bean from its waxy coating.

Admittedly, it’s a lot of effort for a bean.

I came up with this recipe inspired by the favas, leeks and green garlic in my box. But you can substitute regular onions and garlic if you don’t have leeks and green garlic. My in-house taster declared this soup absolutely delicious.

Fava Bean Soup

2 or 3 pounds fava beans

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 leeks*

2 or 3 stalks green garlic (Regular garlic and onions can be substituted for green garlic and leeks)

2 cups vegetable broth

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Boil some water. While waiting for water to boil, remove fava beans from their pods. When water is boiling, add favas for three minutes. Strain, and run cold water over them. Put each bean between your fingers and squeeze gently, to remove fava from its shell.

Chop dark green tops off leeks. Chop off the bottom, cut lengthwise, and wash carefully to get rid of any dirt. Chop remaining light green and white parts into slices about half inch thick.

Chop the bottom off the green garlic, as well as the darkest green part. Finely chop the rest.

Coat bottom of a medium-sized saucepan with olive oil. When hot, add green garlic and leeks. Add a good shake of sea salt. Saute about 10 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Then add broth and fava beans. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat and cover, for about 10 minutes.

Turn off heat. Allow soup to cool a bit, and then either put it into a blender, or use an immersion blender. (I highly recommend this, if you don’t have one!) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over each one.


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