Spiced Fava Bean Soup

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS B’ssara is a traditional Moroccan soup made with dried fava beans that is remarkably simple to make. But even a simple soup can have disastrous pitfalls: undercooked beans, bitter olive oil, overpowering and harsh spices, and flat flavor. We wanted a straightforward, balanced soup that featured the fava bean’s characteristic earthy flavor. To start, we focused on the beans, selecting dried split favas to avoid the tedious task of peeling the tough skins off each one. Our first attempts coaxed excellent flavor from the beans, but the soup lacked depth. To build up the flavor without overpowering the beans, we added an onion, sautéing it to bring out its subtle sweetness. We then increased the amount of garlic and bloomed it with fragrant paprika and cumin. Instead of water, we chose broth, which added depth of flavor. After simmering the beans until they were breaking apart, we bypassed the food processor and the blender, which produced soup that was way too thick, and simply whisked our soup, creating a silken broth and looser consistency with pleasant bits of beans for textural contrast. To finish, lemon juice added some necessary brightness, and we topped individual bowls with extra paprika, cumin, and olive oil, which are the customary garnishes.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

1 onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for serving

2 teaspoons cumin, plus extra for serving

1 pound (3 cups) dried split fava beans, picked over and rinsed

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus extra as needed

2 cups water

¼ cup lemon juice (2 lemons)

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, paprika, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in beans, broth, and water and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until beans are soft and broken down, 1½ to 2 hours.
  3. Off heat, whisk soup vigorously until broken down to coarse puree, about 30 seconds. Adjust consistency with extra hot broth as needed. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with extra oil and sprinkling with extra paprika and cumin.

 

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