Friday, April 12, 2013

Fava Bean Soup

After a week's worth of splendid weather in San Miguel de Allende and festivities with family and friends leading up to Easter Sunday, getting back to the classroom has been, frankly, difficult. I love my job as a teacher and always delight in seeing my students after a long break. But I'm also thinking of my trip over Spring Break, the recent memories like the sun warming my back.

In San Miguel, the furiously twittering birds entice you out of your bedroom early in the morning. From the rooftop you observe the glory of each morning and consider the day's promises. Time's awastin', mi vida, levántate, the melodious birds also seem to be telling me.

This year, we had a special visitor. An elderly aunt who took a nine hour bus ride all the way from Monterrey to be with us. Tía Leyla is our regiomontana (a native of Monterrey, Mexico) Mary Poppins. She has the profound wisdom of her years and the exuberant energy of a 20 year old. She's a powerful storyteller, weaving tales from a remote past, she vividly brings to life the village where my father was born in Mexico. Each morning we made coffee and set the table, taking pleasure in small things, reminiscing, grateful for the opportunity to be together for what was left of our vacation.

Tía Leyla is the kind of person who makes you believe things will be alright; she calls everyone hijo or hija, even the cabdrivers. She has a wise nugget of wisdom for every occasion. She writes poetry (and recites it!). She is kind, intelligent, and a devoted Catholic. If you suspected that she is perhaps is little overzealous in her religious devotion, you would see her differently after a few days in her company. She doesn't preach, she practices and does so quietly. You will never hear a cross word or complaint coming from her.

So, if I bring you these Lenten specialities after Easter, you will forgive me because I did 'seize the moment' by spending this quality time with my aunt.

Let's start first with fava bean soup. Fava bean soup is something eaten in Mexico especially during the period of Lent and it's something we ate often this past week. My aunt and I prepared it with fava beans we bought at the Tianguis outside of San Miguel. There is a buttery, creamy texture to this bean soup that makes it very special.  You will find it very easy to make with the dry fava beans you find at the grocery store here. You can even make it with canned fava beans, but you will get a creamier texture if you make them yourself.

Fava Bean Soup

Recipe Type: soup

Cuisine: Mexican

Author: Gilda Valdez Carbonaro

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total time:

Serves: 6

It is magic to watch these homely looking dried beans become this velvety, elegant soup. If you can make your own chicken broth for this, it's better, if not, use commercial broth. If you can make your own beans, it's also better, if not, use canned beans. But just try this soup, it's delicious!

  • 5 cups dry fava beans
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped finley
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • olive oil to cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  1. Soak the fava beans overnight.

  2. Place them in a pot and cover them completely with fresh water.

  3. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cooking them for about 2 hours.

  4. Add the chicken soup; it should be a soupy, lumpy, creamy texture.

  5. Separately, cook the onion slowly until it is almost transparent.

  6. Add the tomatoes, and garlic and cook this mixture covered until it is practically dissolved.

  7. When it is completely cooked, add this mixture to the pot of beans.

  8. Cook for another 20 minutes, adjust for salt.

  9. Serve in bowls as a first course, or in ramekins, as an appetizer, garnished with cilantro.