Savory Fava Bean Stew

Yield: 13 cups

The deceptively simple spicing needn’t fool you, my partner who’s not usually a bean person agrees with me that this is amazing stew.  So much so that the dish has made it into said partner’s breakfast, lunch and supper repertoires – yes, all three – depending on inclination.  To ensure the most flavourful stew possible, there are a few pointers that can help out.

The first secret is to make sure the fava beans are cooked to mash since they act provide creaminess and thickening to the rich tomato broth.  Since favas can be a bear to digest, the long cooking also helps them in this regard.

The next secret is getting the onions rings cooked right: mostly translucent on the inside with some darkened golden, brown and black bits on the outside.  To make sure that happens, ensure the onions are sliced thickly enough and that the pot has been pre-heated sufficiently prior to the start of cooking.

Finally, if you have home-canned tomatoes, they make a huge difference and are truly a world apart from the tin-can-grocery-store variety, although the stew will work nonetheless with whatever you do have on-hand.

What you need:

  • 3 cups dried extra-large fava beans, skin on (or save yourself some hassle and buy the hulled and halved extra-large beans, just use less of them and reduce the cooking time accordingly, you want 4 cups of very-cooked-looking-like-mashed-potato fava bean by the end of the exercise)
  • A 6” piece of kombu seaweed
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 small or medium onions, peeled and slicked into 1/4″ rings, 4 cups of rings
  • 5 gloves garlic, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root
  • 6 cups unsalted crushed tomatoes (home-canned preferred)
  • 1 cup unsulphured sundried tomatoes, soaked to rehydrate, drained and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated chipotle pepper (more if you want it hotter)
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced on a diagonal, 2 cups
  • 2 teaspoons salt (less if your crushed tomatoes are salted)

What you do:

  1. Soak the dry beans overnight or up to 24 hours in a generous amount of fresh water, enough to cover by 3’’-4’’.
  2. Skin the beans once they’ve soaked by pressing or rubbing them between the fingers. They should “pop” out pretty easily if they’ve soaked enough although there may be a few recalcitrant beans amongst the crowd.
  3. Drain the beans; add to a pot with more fresh water to cover by 3’’-4’’, along with the kombu and bay leaves.
  4. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat. Simmer on stove-top until beans are pretty much mush with a few firmer bits, 2-3 hours.  You could also pressure cook the beans for 60-70 minutes and allow a natural pressure release.
  5. When cooked, remove the seaweed and bay and drain the beans in a fine-mesh colander. Set aside.  You should have 4 cups of puréed bean.
  6. When the beans are about an hour from being done, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or cooking pot. Add the onions and sauté 15-20 minutes, until the inside is tender and the exterior browning/reddish/blackened in places.DSCN9294
  7. Add the garlic, ginger and granulated chipotle pepper and stir a minute or two, until fragrant.
  8. Add the crushed tomatoes and sliced sun-dried tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.DSCN9297.JPG
  9. Remove the cover and add the carrots and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover again and simmer 10-15 minutes more, or until carrots are tender-crisp.
  10. Add the cooked beans, remaining teaspoon of salt and mix well.DSCN9301.JPG
  11. Serve.

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