Fresh fava beans are in season now and I can’t get enough of them. Usually I use them in pasta dishes or in my favorite grilled polenta dish but this year I had a craving for minestrone soup so I’ve made it a couple of times already. No one is complaining and I had to act fast to get pictures of this second batch because it was being eaten so fast.
Yes, fava beans are one of the more labor intensive foods out there. How can I convince you it’s worth it? I could promise to send you a reward for giving them a try but I’m too lazy to get down to the post office. I could list all the reasons why I look forward to shelling and peeling favas every year but that would take too much effort. I could engage in a guilt campaign that would make my grandma proud but guilt uses up a lot of energy. Why expend all my energy trying to convince you that processing fresh favas is worth it when I could use that same energy to process the 3 lbs of favas waiting for me in the kitchen? So if you don’t feel up to the work of preparing fresh favas – you can add a can of cannellini beans instead. It will still be an awesome spring minestrone soup. I won’t think less of you, I promise.
This recipe makes a lot of soup.
Recipe for Minestrone Soup With Fresh Shelled Fava Beans
- 3 lbs fava beans, shelled, blanched, and skins removed
- 1 lb spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 1 quart canned diced tomatoes (or a 28 ounce can if buying from the store)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup finely minced mix of oregano, parsley, thyme, and just a little bit of lovage
- 2 quarts water or stock, plus more as needed
- 1 cup of whole wheat rotelli pasta
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- While removing the favas from the pods put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the beans to the boiling water for one minute. Drain and then put them in a bowl of ice water. When the beans have cooled, remove the skins and set the beans aside for later.
- Carefully wash the spinach (even if it's prewashed - it often still has grit in it) and remove the stems as you wash it. Then chop it roughly and set it aside for later.
- Heat the oil in a big soup pot. Once it's hot add the onion, carrot, and potatoes. Saute on med/high heat until the vegetables slightly brown. You will need to stir frequently to keep them from sticking.
- Add the diced tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and two quarts of water. Stir well then add the spinach. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to med/low heat and cook until the carrots and potatoes are just tender. Usually about 15 minutes.
- Add the pasta and fava beans and cook for ten more minutes. Add more water if it's getting too thick (this is a matter of personal discretion). The pasta will suck some up.
- Lastly add the zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook for five more minutes and then turn the heat off. Let the soup sit for a while to finish cooking the zucchinis.
A really big handful of fresh herbs will result in a half a cup of minced herbs. There's no exact science here. I went out in the garden and picked a lot of oregano, a little parsley, a few sprigs of thyme and a pinch of lovage.
If you haven't used lovage before - it's very strong so a little goes a long way. It adds a wonderful celery flavor to soups. If you don't grow lovage then you might want to add a couple of stalks of chopped celery to this soup (throw it in at the same time as the onion).
As always with soup - how much water or stock you add is a personal matter. I used 3 quarts of water but you could add a little more to make it thinner or less for a thicker soup. So start with the 2 quarts in the recipe and then use your own preferences as a guide.
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