The Best Broad Bean Soup, with grated outrage on the side?

I wish modern life was as simple as a freshly picked broad bean. Broad beans keep on giving, to us, back to the earth, to the future, and don’t ask for much in return. They are prolific, nutritious and easily grown, but their season is short. When I’m picking broad beans or fava, I feel safe and in touch with something primordial and elemental: they’ve been cultivated for 10,000 years and pop up in all sorts of world cuisines. The recipes are endless and all tempting. I often notice how well these tall plants support each other in the wind when they’re heavy with fat beans. Bending my way through the pale stalks as I pick the plump young pods, I often reflect on the grander issues of life. Gardening is my thinking space, free from distraction and noise and it is, in a sense, quite subversive . It’s a world away from the culture wars that dominate my screens, where new causes and self -righteous stances pop up daily and divide and split those on the same side, each issue mutating along the way. Young versus old, boomer versus millennial, carnivore versus vegan, on and on it goes. Is this cartoonist a misogynist? Change the Date, Nup to the Cup, farmers versus city folk, who has the holiest milk, almonds versus cows, will the real water thieves please raise their hand, diet religion. Division is the name of the game here, and those climate crisis deniers who speak untruths, who adopt slogans without meaning in response to catastrophe, dealers in fake religion, prayers and hopes and rhetorical nonsense, the used car salesman in a baseball cap holding a lump of coal, or those sporting silly hairstyles, the cretins in power are laughing all the way to the next polls. Unlike our co-operative and timeless tall broad bean plants, progressives around the globe are divided and distracted, too busy with their own point scoring and breast thumping, privately self congratulatory at their stance on… fill in your own issue. Beware of smugness and mindless memes. Read more books and turn off the screen. View with suspicion new language, appropriated words from African Americans, if it makes you feel superior, separate or better than others. Keep your eyes on the main event. There is only one earth. Divided we lose.

My Best Broad Bean Soup. Crema di Fave Fresche con Pecorino Romano.

  • freshly picked broad beans, 800 gr or more
  • one large potato or 2 medium, peeled and cubed
  • one medium onion, finely chopped
  • new season garlic, 3 or more, finely chopped
  • EV olive oil
  • stock, home made or water with stock cube/powder
  • fresh marjoram leaves, torn
  • sea salt, white ground pepper
  • grated pecorino romano cheese
  1. In a heavy saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil gently for 10 minutes till soft and golden.
  2. Add the chopped potato, and cover with stock. Cook on medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, shell the beans and cook them in boiling water for around 1 minute. Drain, cool the beans in cold water, then shell them. The delicious green centre will pop out easily between finger and thumb, once parboiled.
  4. Once the potato is almost soft, add the green shelled broad beans and the torn marjoram. Cook gently for another minute or so. Season well.
  5. Add the contents to a blender or food processor and buzz until smooth.
  6. Serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Of course you could use another cheese, but Pecorino and broad beans( fava) make a wonderful marriage, and are a traditional match.
left hand side, double peeled, right hand side, parboiled but still in shells.

My sometimes editor, Mr T, suggested I remove all the ‘F’ words from this post, but I’m more than happy for you to reinsert them wherever you like. This post was inspired by an overdose of activity, by way of comment in the Guardian, with a whole heap of supposedly progressive younger people who like to use the meme, #okboomer, an ageist term destined to divide activists on the basis of age. Use it and be the unconscious tool of fascism.

A Farewell to Broad Beans. Frittata di Primavera

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At some ungodly hour this morning, still half asleep, I heard my mother’s voice saying, ¬†‘Don’t¬†make a rod for your own back.’ ¬†At the time, I was considering the long list of jobs in the vegetable¬†garden for the day ahead. Rod for my back? ¬†Yes indeed.

In Spring, the garden turns into the dictator of this little kingdom. The broad beans must come out today, the potatoes were dug out yesterday, a rather disappointing crop due to frosts in June. All the silver beet plants are now towering over me as they all simultaneously go to seed. They must be dug out and handed over to the chickens, reminding me that next week, the greens will be few in our kitchen.  There are lettuces and cucumbers to transplant, more crops to sow, and a piece of metal rio (metal building mesh) would be very handy to make a shady wall for the rhubarb. The fruit trees need netting, the tomato plants staking!  Just as one languishes in the land of plenty, along comes that dictator to deliver the rod. Or am I stuck in some bygone land of Catholic penance?

Non Capisco una Fava!
Non Capisco una Fava!

Many meals come my way gratis, thanks to l’orto, the veggie garden. This is the upside of our peasant labour, and when I eat this way, I feel that it’s worth all the effort. Last night’s Frittata is an example. I gathered all the ingredients from the garden, added some eggs from our chickens and made a 10 minute meal that was alive with taste, and rather healthy too.

Frittata di Primavera -Fave, Patata e Rugola

Spring Frittata with Broad Beans, Potato and Rocket.

This recipe takes only a few minutes to throw together if you have already cooked and peeled the broad beans, which is discussed previously here.

  • 4 -5 small new potatoes, yellow fleshed
  • 1 cup of broad beans
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
  • a large handful of rugola/rocket
  • Extra Virgin olive oil ( Australian oil is an excellent choice if you happen to live here)
  • vinegar di Jerez ( Sherry vinegar)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Method

  • Boil the new potatoes in their skins, until just done. Roughly chop.
  • Heat a small non stick pan and add a good glug of olive oil.
  • Add potatoes, turn around in the oil, add a pinch of salt and the paprika, and cook till golden.
  • Add the chopped garlic, turn about for a minute, then add the double shelled broad beans.
  • Beat the eggs with a little more salt and pepper, then pour over the vegetables.
  • Lift up the edges of the frittata, allowing the unset egg to run back under, turning the pan as you go.
  • When the frittata looks almost done, except for the wet top, pop it under a hot grill for a minute or so to set.
  • When done, invert onto a plate, using the plate as a lid over the pan.
  • Top with rugola/rocket, which has been¬†dressed in olive oil and sherry vinegar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

The Not So Humble Broad Bean Risotto

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABroad beans ( Fave) are often associated with poverty and simple, peasant eating. They grow prolifically and produce a bounty of fresh beans, with plenty to stash in the freezer or dry. The Italians who migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 60s, with “Courage in their Cases,” also had a few dried fave beans sown into the lining, a memento of home and a good luck seed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When married with quality risotto rice such as Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice, as well as a small slab of hot smoked salmon or trout, the humble broad bean enters the realms of rich man’s food, la cucina borghese. You decide: keep it cheap and leave out the hot smoked fish and use a cheaper everyday arborio rice, or lash out!

Ingredients ( two as a main, 4 as a small entrée)

  • 1 cup shelled broad beans/fave
  • 1 ¬†small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vialone nano rice ( or other arborio)
  • 30 gr butter
  • 1 Tbles EV olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, simmering on the stove
  • 75 gr hot smoked salmon or trout, torn in small pieces
  • fresh herbs, such as marjoram, oregano or dill
  • Grana Padano or Reggiano Parmigiano, grated, a generous amount.

    Rich man, poor man ingredients
    Rich man, poor man ingredients

Method

  1. Firstly, boil the shelled broad beans for 3 minutes, drain, then peel by simply squeezing the outer shell, and sliding out the tender, bright green inner bean. Even better, get some little person to help.
  2.  Heat 20 gr of butter and the olive oil in a heavy base pot, add the chopped onion and cook on low until the onion has softened and is golden in colour. Add the rice and stir about until the rice becomes covered and opaque. Turn up the heat to medium.  Add the wine, and stir until it bubbles away. Then add a ladle full of stock, stirring as you go, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue in this way until all the stock has been used, around 20 minutes or so.  In the last few minutes of this process, just as you add your last stock, add the beans and stir through.

    First stage of cooking risotto.
    First stage of cooking risotto.
  3. Gently stir through the salmon and the¬†chopped¬†herbs, then fare il mantecare. This is an essential step to add creaminess and finish to the risotto. Add the remaining knob of butter and a generous amount ¬†of grated parmesan ( 1/2 cup) ¬†to the rice, stir through to ‘cream’ the rice, then cover the pot, off the heat, and leave for a couple of minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAServe on a large round or oval platter, with more parmesan, and serve from the outside, in a circular fashion, which maintains the heat in the centre.

Find other seasonal broadbean recipes from my previous posts using these links: Tagliatelle with Broadbeans and Smoked Salmon  and  Rice, Farro and Barley Pilaf with Broadbeans.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Tagliatelle with Broad Beans and Smoked Salmon

What the Fava! The Broad bean glut is on. One week they look nice and petite, ready to be eaten raw with a chunk of Pecorino cheese. Blink, turn around, and suddenly they are huge and in plague proportions.

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Broad Beans or Fave have a fascinating history but none more so than for our local Italo- Australiani, many of whom migrated here in the 1950s, with broad beans sewn into the lining of their suitcases or hems of their coats.  Fava beans played a important role in the Sicilian tradition. When dried, roasted and blessed, they became lucky beans. Some believe that if you keep one in the pantry, there will always be food in the kitchen. Given the size of our broad bean crop, we will be very fortunati this month.

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I collected another basket load today and enlisted the help of young chef Daisy, who was happy to shell them for our lunch. Today’s recipe is an old favourite, using bits and pieces from the garden- broad beans, dill, and spring onions. It serves four, or three very greedy people, and is quick to prepare, once the beans are shelled, cooked, then peeled, the only tedious part.

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Tagliatelle with Broad Beans and Smoked Salmon, serves four for a starter or 3 as a main course.

Ingredients

700 g young broad beans

25 gr butter

100 ml dry white wine

6 spring onions

a generous handful of dill

200 gs of Creme Fra√ģche or Cream

300 grams of egg pasta such as Tagliatelle

100 gr of smoked salmon cooking pieces. ( Smoked trout is also good)

Method.

Shell the beans. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add beans, bring back to the boil then cook for a minute or so.

Drain, refresh with running cold water, and slip the beans from their outer skins.

In a large, heavy based pan, melt the better and add the chopped spring onions. Cook these for a few minutes, then add the wine. Reduce down to 2 tablespoons. Then add the creme fraiche or cream, lower heat and allow the mixture to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Cook the Tagliatelle for the required time. Before draining, scoop out one cup of the pasta cooking water. ( a good general habit). If the cream sauce seems thick and needs loosening, add a little pasta water, Season. Then stir through the broad beans and cut salmon bits. The salmon needs warming, not cooking. Add the drained pasta to the pan, toss about, adding the dill at this point. Serve in heated pasta bowls.

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