Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chilled Corn & Fava Soup

Chris says this is "the finest soup I've ever made." And we are generally more or less awash in a sea of soup around here, so he wasn't lacking in comparators. However, it's just a leeeeeeetle bit labor intensive (cutting corn from the cob, double-shucking favas, peeling a whole head of garlic, cleaning leeks, stemming herbs).

So as not to inadvertently lead anyone down the path to a very late dinner, I'll specify that it took me about 2.5 hours ... maybe this is one to make with a sous chef, or on a post-farmer's -market Sunday afternoon when you have lawyer work you should ACTUALLY be doing and are seeking to forget, through repetitive physical motions and nice veggie smells, that you've ever read a law at all...

But anyway, that said, I just gobbled down two veggie-laden, pale green, savory-sweet, crunchy bowlsful like they were dang ice cream sundaes, so it gets a post.

You'll need:
2 pounds (in pods) favas - or more if you think you can face the shucking
6 cobs corn
4 small / 2 large leeks
1 head garlic
2 cups-ish (de-stemmed, loosely packed) fresh herbs: Mix of parsley, dill, tarragon, and mint
3 TB butter
Veggie bullion
Salt, paprika
Cotija cheese or a mild feta to top

Also: A soup pot, a saucepan with a steamer, tongs, blender.

The favas take the longest, both to prepare and to cook, so they're the place to start. Get 12 cups of water boiling. I added just 4 tsp of my preferred vegetable bullion to that quantity of broth (about 1/3 the amount called for) so it wouldn't be too intense. Then start shucking those favas.

When the broth starts to boil, take a break from the favas, husk your corn, and plop it in there to parbroil to make it easier to cut off the cob. (Unless you don't mind cutting raw corn off the cob, in which case be my guest, save yourself a step). When it cools, cut it off the cob and set it aside.

When the favas are out of their pods, put them in a steamer and steam them for 2-5 minutes, till the outsides look waxy and puckered, as if pulling away from the inner bean. Then peel that layer off too. (This was my first time dealing w/fresh fava beans,* and I quickly got in a groove where I'd put the knife perpendicular to the little brown line on top, and pop the top off like a cap, and then they'd shoot right outta their skins).

Once you get the favas into the broth, they will need awhile to soften, so you have plenty of time to prepare your garlic and leeks. Wash and slice the leeks; peel and slice the garlic, and put them all in the butter in the bottom of your saucepan, still hot from fava-steaming duty, on low heat. Let them soften. When they're niiiiiice and soft, add them to the broth. When the favas are also soft, add the corn as well.

Meantime, start pulling aromatic leaves from their stems. I used more parsley & dill than tarragon & mint. Don't skip the tarragon if you can help it though, I think it was an important flavor.

Once your herbs are ready, scoop some of the soup into the blender, add the herbs to the blender as well, and liquefy. I left the soup about 1/3 rustic and 2/3 blended, so there was plenty of texture but the broth had some creaminess to it. Season with salt and paprika.

Chill, then serve topped with your crumbly cheese plus maybe a squirt of lime and dash of paprika, with buttered bread and chilled white wine,. (I had it hot for lunch today on account of ferocious office A/C, and that was good too, but I think cold is better.)

*You'd think I never had a sister who farmed fava beans! But I did! Guess which one!

(There, have I redeemed myself from silly salad-dressing and smoothie recipes??)


  1. Oh this sounds so good! I wonder if it would be reasonably to sub something in for the favas to decrease labor time.

    I am hatching a plan to come live with you when I finally get to spend a summer just writing my dissertation. The plan goes like this "K will escape hell (read: Phoenix in the summer) and come crash S' place so that S can feed her fava soup and she can be surrounded by pretty flowers and fast cars and cute kittens." Sound good?

  2. YES. Yes, come live amongst the kittehs! Kittehs + Kate!

    For the favas... dried ones, or maybe a combo of cauliflower and peas would get you to the same nutty/velvety/sweet place. I actually would really like to try it that way.