You might know these as Fava beans and I'll be the first to admit that they aren't as visually appealing as fresh broad beans - those bright green hues have turned into shades of brown when dried.
One of the great ingredient marriages is broad beans and fennel and I'll be exploiting that relationship in a soup. The process is a bit fiddly but the end result is quite satisfying.
250 grams dried broad beans, soaked overnight
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
water or stock
sea salt and white pepper
fresh or frozen broad beans
Cook the beans:
Drain the soaked beans, discarding the water. In a saucepan, add the drained beans & a sprig or two of fennel leaf and cover generously with cold water. Place on a low heat and simmer until the beans start to soften - you just want them to reach the stage that you remove that outer skin. This is the time consuming part of the recipe but the end result is worth it. When you see the colour of the water they have cooked in, it's a horrible murky brown and if I leave this outer skin on my soup will end up with that unappealing colour.
Make the soup:
While the beans are simmering, it's the perfect time to make the base of the soup. Add a good knob of butter and a little drizzle of oil into a pot and place over a low heat. When the butter has melted but not browned, tip in the prepared onion, fennel and garlic. Cook this very slowly so that they soften but not colour - about 15 to 20 minutes.
At this stage you can now add the skinned beans to the pot and then cover with either water or stock and simmer until the beans start to collapse.
Remove from the heat, strain but reserve the liquid. Place the solids into a blender/processor and blitz until thick and creamy - add a ladle or two of the reserved liquid to help form a smooth puree.
If you want an ultra smooth soup, push the puree through a fine mesh. Place the puree into a pot and add enough reserved liquid to give it a "soup consistency"- the amount of liquid depends on whether you like your soup thick or thin.
Taste and season with sea salt and white pepper. Return to the heat and simmer to warm through - it's now ready to be served.
Make the topping:
As it is a touch monochromatic, I've decided to bring in some colour and a little piquancy to the soup. Fresh broad beans are still a little while away so I've used frozen beans that I've blanched and skinned and then tossed through a fine dice of sautéed chorizo.
If you wanted to keep it meat free, then I'd saute finely sliced fennel until golden and then toss the fresh broad beans through that.