Chilled Fava Bean Soup with Mint and Lemon Oil

Wow, I'm so glad I found this unusual but delightfully refreshing way to use fava beans! Hard to believe that this soup's inspiration came from a 14th/15th century Sicilian peasant food, Maccu, a thick, drab beige soup usually made during the winter with crushed, dried fava beans.

Instead, in this reincarnation, fresh favas provide a lovely spring green hue while the lemon and mint lend a bright and cooling note. The "soup" is actually a very thick puree, but you can easily adjust the thickness to your liking by adding additional liquid.

This soup, in my opinion, is even better the next day, so feel free to make ahead and store refrigerated until ready to serve.

Chilled Fava Bean Soup with Mint and Lemon Oil
Adapted from Linda Hillel's recipe in One Big Table by Molly O'Neill
Serves 6-8 as a first course

In a large stockpot, boil for 5-6 minutes or until tender:
2.5 lbs (6-7 cups) shelled fava beans, rinsed clean (approx. 5 lbs unshelled)

When fava beans are cooked tender, drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Alternatively, if you are using vegetable or chicken stock, you don't need to reserve the cooking liquid. Rinse fava beans with cold water. When cooled enough, peel beans. I find it easiest to pinch open an opening at the "butt" end and then squeeze the bean through the opening.

In a small bowl, combine to make the lemon oil:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest

In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of the lemon oil. Add and saute for 4 minutes over medium heat:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Add and saute for another minute:
3 cloves garlic, minced

Turn off heat. To the cooked onions, add the peeled fava beans and:
1/4 cup packed mint leaves, chopped

Stir to combine. Start by adding 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid or stock.  Puree with a stick blender. Alternatively, you can transfer beans in batches and process with a blender or food processor. The soup should be thick, but depending on the maturity of the beans, you may need to add additional cooking liquid. I ended up adding 1 more cup of liquid, for a total of  2 cups. Next time, I may add another 1/2 cup, so it doesn't chill into a mousse-like consistency when stored in the refrigerator.

Transfer pureed soup to a large bowl. Add remaining lemon oil. Stir and add any additional salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until chilled.

Serve in bowls with:
dollop of creme fraiche or greek yogurt
mint garnish

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