Dried Fava Bean Soup (Zuppa di Fave Secche)

When I learned that my husband loves this soup, I thought of making it to surprise him on his birthday along with his other favorite dishes.  However, my thoughtful plan did not materialize because so many things happened.  We went to a restaurant instead to celebrate.  Too many things to do and so little time.  Isn't that how our lives are nowadays?  We're always running and spending less time staring at the walls.  I meant relaxing. 

I already forgot about this soup when I happened to see it being done in the television by a cook from Puglia, the southern part of Italy.  Some regions have this soup as their traditional food like Sicily's maccu or macco di fave  When I asked my mother-in-law about cooking it once, she explained it to me but given my ephemeral memory, I forgot it before I could write it down. 

I took note of the Puglian cook's version because it seemed good.  The recipe uses guanciale and that part sealed the deal.  It's one of my weaknesses.  I love guanciale.  The Sicilian maccu is simply done with dried fava beans, wild fennel (replaced by other kinds of vegetables depending on the area) & oil.

What I thought was a soup of mediocre taste turned out very good and even the kids liked it.  My husband of course, was contented and happy.  I decided to surprise him even if I was already months late.

It's a perfect soup to have during these freezing days.   

Buon appetito!

Dried Fava Bean Soup (Zuppa di Fave Secche)

Serves 2
  • 200 grams dried fava beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 thick slices of guanciale or pancetta, julienned or diced
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles
  • Extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Water
  1. Soak the fava beans for at least 12 hours.  Drain.  
  2. In a pot, over medium heat, cook the guanciale & garlic without oil.  Add the onions. Set aside about 4 strips of toasted guanciale for garnishing the soup before serving.   When the garlic turns golden, discard. 
  3. Add the fava beans and toast for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the tomatoes, rosemary & potatoes.  Let them toast for a few minutes.
  5. Pour the water in the pot until all the ingredients are covered. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  
  6. Cover and simmer for 2-1/2 hours on low heat.  Add more hot water if the soup is drying up.
  7. The soup should have a creamy consistency.  As you stir, mash the beans with the back of a wooden spoon or fork.  If you want to shorten the cooking or you want it to be really smooth, use a hand blender.  
  8. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with the toasted guanciale that you set aside.