Always a crowd pleaser! This is one of the staple recipes on our Sicilian Foodie Adventures. Every Spring, throughout Italy, fava beans are piled up at local food markets. Large shopping bags are needed if you are going to get enough to feed a group of 20, as we do on these trips. There is so much “bulk waste” when using fresh fava beans (think giant green beans where you only use the tiny seeds inside) that it is tempting to buy the frozen “shucked” beans. There are few vegetables that hold up well in their frozen state, and fava beans (also known as broad beans) are one of them. Fresh beans are rare here in New England. I am sure that they are more readily available in regions with a dense Italian population. Dried Fava beans are also available, but they do not compare in color, flavor or texture. Steps 1-3 in this recipe all refer to the preparation of “Fresh Fava Beans”, so it you are using frozen ones you can skip to step 4 or 5. Frozen beans may or may not have the light green outer shell on them as I refer to in step 4. If you can’t find fava beans, substitute frozen green peas.
Creamy Mussel Soup with Fava BeansCourse: SoupsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
5 pounds fresh fava beans
1 bottle of dry white wine (750 ml)
4 pounds of fresh mussels, soaked in salted water for 30 minutes, replacing the water several times, remove beards and barnacles
1 leek, white and light green part only
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 bulb of fresh fennel, cored and diced
3 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot with 1 tablespoon salt.
- Remove the beans from the pods. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Have a large bowl of ice water ready to cool the beans.
- When the beans are done, remove them from the boiling water with a strainer and immediately shock them in the ice water. Cool for 2 minutes.
- Remove the fava beans from the ice water and peel the light green outer shell from the bean, exposing the bright green tender bean from the center. Discard the outer shells and reserve the tender green beans.
- Place the white wine in a large soup pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and add the cleaned mussels. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until most of the mussels have opened. Pull the mussels from the pot with a strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells and reserve. Discard shells.
- Strain the reserved cooking liquid through a fine strainer lined with a coffee filter or fine cheese cloth. Sand from the mussels may have ended up in the bottom of the pot, so carefully decant the liquid at the end.
- Cut leek in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces and soak in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, moving them around gently to remove any sand. Carefully lift the leeks from the water and drain until dry.
- Clean the soup pot and return to the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Cook the onions and the leeks for about 3 minutes, stirring. Add the celery and fennel and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the strained cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and heat for 1 minute.
- Blend with an immersion blender or in a standing blender until smooth. Return to the stove and add the reserved mussels and fava beans. Heat through, season with salt and white pepper and serve.