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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Broad Bean Soup- Sicilian Style- Maccu

 Growing up, I had a distinct dislike for broad beans, or as my parents used to call it, fava beans. These beans are strongly flavored, and I used to close my eyes and swallowed them whole, I disliked them that much.
Recently, though, I was a guest at someone's house and she served such a delicious dish with broad beans that I decided to give them a second chance. I used frozen immature green broad beans and it was delicious. Only they were a tad on the expensive side.

I discovered a little while back that where I live, dry mature broad beans are absolutely the cheapest type of bean that there is, and I've been trying to incorporate them into our diet.
Only my first attempt reminded me just why I always hated broad beans. Broad beans have a powerful flavor, stronger than any other bean, in my opinion. A not so pleasant taste, actually. They also have a rather tough skin, making their texture also unappealing.
I was rather bummed out. Here's someone who doesn't mind eating foods made with banana peels, watermelon rinds, and spoiled milk, but she has a problem with the cheapest type of bean available? I felt like a hypocrite, like there was something wrong with me. Broad beans are a staple in so many places all over the world, including Italy, China, Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Latin America, and are the favorite foods of many. They couldn't be bad... I just must not have hit up on the proper preparation method.


Recently, I came across this recipe on a site about Sicily, where she told how her father longed of this soup while he was in captivity in a POW camp.
Hearing that story gave me the push to try making broad beans once again, and this time I hit the jackpot.
This soup is so superb that I want to just make it again and again!

Good both hot or cold, this soup, officially named Maccu, uses only cheap ingredients and is topped with my favorite veggie- foraged wild mustard! The taste is reminiscent of split pea soup, and because it is blended up, the thick skins don't bother me anymore. Here is the recipe, with my changes.

Ingredients
Soup:
1 lb mature dry broad beans
3 carrots
1 large onion
1/4 bulb of fennel or 2-3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
Water
Chicken broth (optional)
Salt

Topping:
1 bunch wild mustard, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, kale, spinach, swiss chard, or broccoli flourettes
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
Oil
Salt

Instructions:
1. If desired, soak beans in warm water with baking soda  for 48 hours, changing the water after 24. This step isn't necessary, but shortens cooking time and eliminates gassiness, so it's worth the effort.
2. Cook the broad beans in water with a bit of baking soda until they are starting to get soft.
3. Strain the beans and return to the pot.
4. Add carrots, onions, fennel/celery, garlic,and chicken broth or water to cover.
5. Cook until all the veggies are soft and the beans are falling apart.
6. Blend with an immersion blender.
7. Add water to thin, and add salt to taste.
8. Wash and blanch greens.
9. Sautee onion and garlic in a frying pan. When golden, add greens. Cook for a few minutes, and season with salt.
10. Serve soup topped with greens, and learn to love this really wonderful bean!

Have you ever cooked broad beans? How do you make them?
Are there any foods that for whatever reason you didn't like, and got annoyed at yourself for not liking? Were you able to find a way to make it palatable to you?

1 comment:

  1. If you can find dried broad beans without the skin this also makes a great soup, just boil for pre-soaked beans for 40 minutes in water, then add sweated chopped Onion and half bulb of Fennel, season and boil for 20 or so minutes.

    The secret is then finishing the soup by hand blending with any extra virgin olive oil and finishing with drizzled top quality Olive Oil and plenty of freshly grinded black pepper and sea salt.

    You can have this as a very light thinish soup for a delicate starter or less water will produce a hearty soup for something more substantial. AH.

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