Italian Spring Soup with Fava Beans
"From the hearty cuisine of the Roman countryside comes a fabulous soup of fava beans and rice often served on Tuesdays" — Roberta Corradin, Humble, Yet Divine, the Fava Bean
I was very excited to find this quote, as I had already decided to use my farmers' market fava beans in an Italian Spring Soup today and because it inspired me to use rice instead of pasta, which was a much better partner for both the fava beans and the fresh chard.
This delicious soup is full of healthy seasonal vegetables and is, of course, my contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).
Fava beans (broad beans in the UK) are high in fiber and iron. The fresh ones come in big pods, with wooly insides. The beans inside need to have their bitter outer skin removed (although the outer skin isn't obvious to the eye). I removed the outer shell without cooking the beans first, but they will come off easier if you boil them for a couple of minutes. So you go from what seems like a large bag of fava bean pods to a rather small cup of little green beans. They are lovely though, prized by chefs for their stunning bright green color. Fresh fava beans can be cooked, pureed, and spread on crostini, or added to risotto or fresh vegetable ragouts.
This soup is truly a transitional soup — a wonderful blend of winter and spring vegetables. I included cauliflower, potatoes, leeks, carrots, and chard with the new spring onions, fava beans, baby turnips, and garlic. This is a rich and hearty soup and will be dinner for us, with some garlicy Italian bread. I have to say I love this soup. I think its the chard, fava bean, rice combo that makes this one so special.
Italian Spring Soup with Fava Beans:
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 spring onions (not scallions), finely chopped
1-2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, sliced thin on the diagonal
3-4 baby turnips, topped and quartered
2 baby leeks, white parts only, sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
1/3 large cauliflower, cut into small florettes
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1/3 cup pasta sauce
1 tbsp pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large chard leaves, stemmed and chopped
3/4 cup cooked rice
1 lb fava beans, shelled and peeled
Salt & Pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed, large saucepan and cooked the onions for 1-2 minutes. Add the potato, carrot, turnips, leeks, and butter. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the cauliflower, cover, and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Season. Add the pasta sauce and pesto, stirring well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the chard and cook for 8 minutes. Add the rice and fava beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve with Parmesan or pecorino (grated or shavings).