This is undoubtedly the most flavoursome base for a vegetarian stock I’ve ever tasted – it’s simply exquisite. And that’s due to the cooking liquor produced whilst boiling the dried beans themselves. It really is astonishingly good. What surprises me is the fact that fresh broad beans, as they’re called here in the UK, are only ever for sale locally for a couple of weeks during midsummer. According to this article 500,000 tonnes are produced in the UK (and those figures are from last year), with most of them exported to the Middle East, presumably Egypt. Wouldn’t it then be ironic that I’m buying a product that clearly states, produce of more than one country, as chances are they were grown here, then dried and packaged in Egypt or the Middle East and shipped right back to us! Actually, what I find even more surprising is that they’re only for sale here, as fresh, for several weeks. Otherwise they’re sold in smallish cans that are only ever found within the tinned vegetable section of supermarkets – they’re a legume, people! Those, in cans, are small. And something I’ve been eating for years, mostly with tuna and pasta. More recently I’ve been grabbing bags of fresh beans during summer and relishing the whole process of podding them, then cooking and, when cool, removing the outer skin. To do that, incidentally, hold one in your hand (between thumb and first finger) with their inner curve facing outwards, pinch and tear that curve with your other thumb, squeeze the bean on its outer curve and they should plop out. That easy. And when they’re double-shelled their colour really is quite amazing. Such a brilliant green. With these dried split beans I’ve bought, on the other hand, their colour is a dullish beige – shame, as I don’t normally do beige! Which is why the soup itself is so pale. Some might suggest wishy-washy. I don’t care! Once you taste this soup you won’t either.
The inspiration for this soup came from one of Seana’s recent posts on COTTAGE GROVE HOUSE, Yoghurt & Fava Bean Soup (featured on Fiesta Friday #15 Featured list, chosen by the hostess Angie, with co-hosts Saucy Gander and myself), which I’ll have to try during summer when fresh broad beans (as they’re called here in the UK) are available. Until then I’d decided to buy in a pack of these dried split beans instead. And I’m now so thrilled that I did. What a revelation this has turned out to be. As I’m looking forward to experimenting more with vegetable broth like bases, that will include some of the broad bean cooking liquor, for my soups, sauces and gravies. How wonderful to be able to have a vegetarian stock or base that rivals that of a chicken broth – at last!
Dried Split Broad or Fava Bean Soup with Parmesan, parsley and potatoes
SOAK: overnight (if using dried split beans it’s not absolutely necessary to soak – see Note below) ~ PREP: about 30 mins ~ COOK: about 1 hour ~ READY IN: 1 hour +
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: soup blender/liquidiser
NOTE: It’s not absolutely necessary to soak the dried split broad/fava beans overnight as they do cook relatively quickly, compared to the whole dried type. If using the latter then those do need to be soaked overnight, their outer shells removed the following day and discarded before cooking them (unless stated otherwise, as the whole bean can be eaten – including the pod!).
- 100g (3.527 oz) x dried split broad/fava beans, rinsed well and soaked in lots of cold water overnight (see note above) and only about half of the cooked beans are needed for the actual soup
- 2 – 3 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and chopped into 3 or 4 pieces (I love the flavour of celery within stocks so I use 3)
- 300ml (10.14 fl oz) x cold water
- up to 1 x organic vegetable stock cube (start off with 1/2 a cube, then add more later on if necessary)
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split
- about 100ml (3.381 oz) x cooking liquor (the cooking water or residue that’s left after boiling the beans)
- about 100ml (3.381 oz) x semi-skimmed long-life milk (according to how much cooking liquor is used)
- 200 – 300g (7.055 – 10.58 oz) x salad potatoes, scrubbed if necessary and boiled until cooked
- lots of fresh flat leaf parsley, washed and chopped or snipped with scissors
- lots of freshly grated Parmesan
- seasoning, to serve (it wasn’t necessary to season this stock)
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After soaking the split beans overnight rinse them thoroughly and then add them to a large saucepan with lid, adding plenty of cold water to cover to cover the beans. Put on electric heat No 4 out of 6 and bring to a boil, which took mine about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer briskly for 10 minutes – longer if necessary. I took mine off heat and allowed them to cool in their cooking liquor, which allowed for a slightly extended cooking time. These beans could quite easily turn into mush so do keep an eye on them after reducing heat to a brisk simmer. The reason why that’s important as it won’t be possible to drain them sufficiently. It’s absolutely essential for them to keep their shape at this stage!
- Once beans are cooked drain them through a metal colander into a suitable bowl or container, reserving all of the cooking liquor. Set both the drained beans and cooking liquor aside.
- In the same saucepan add the celery, water, half the stock cube and bay leaf. Bring to a boil with a lid on top, then reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for up to 30 minutes. After that time drain this stock through a metal colander into a suitable container, then squeeze the celery with the back of a large metal serving spoon to extract as much of the juice as possible.
- In the meantime put the potatoes (without peeling them) in a saucepan with enough salted cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 with a lid on pan and simmer until cooked. Drain and set aside.
- Add about 100ml of the cooking liquor from the beans to the stock along with the milk and only half of the cooked beans. Pour this into a soup blender and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and put on lowish heat to warm through. When warm start to taste the soup for any needed extra vegetable stock (I used the other half), or more cooking liquor from the beans and/or seasoning. When happy with the flavour simply add the potatoes, bring back to near boiling to make sure everything is heated through. This is quite a thin soup. For a thicker soup simply keep on heat and reduce until you get the consistency needed.
- Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan and chopped/snipped parsley.
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