We are finding mounds of fava beans in the green market on Arthur Avenue and the farmer’s markets in Manhattan. Edward has been making a light, fresh tasting fava been soup with them. That, and chicken soup with peas, and beef stock with rice (he gets huge bags of bones from Biancardi’s and makes up big pots of stock).
It’s getting warm enough to grill, so Edward has cooked lamb chops and duck breast outside, and while there are never leftover lamb chops (he just buys two, one for Ed and one for Ellie) he combined the leftover duck breast with boiled potatoes to make a luncheon salad the next day. He also fried skate wings a couple of times. He has the guys at Randazzo’s remove the skin and he cuts the wing into pieces about the size of a pack of cards. He lets the wing rest in milk, and then tosses it in a paper bag with flour (I used Wondra, works great!). He fries the wing in boiling hot grapeseed oil for about 5 minutes, maybe a little more, until the wings are golden brown on each side, and then drains them on old paper bags. A sprinkle of kosher salt is all that is needed. “My mother used to say if the fish is fried well, all you need is salt,” said Edward. “No lemon.”
Which reminds me of the time I had coffee with Mr. Illy (yes, that Mr. Illy) and he said the origin of serving espresso with a lemon peel—to rub the lip of the cup–was to counteract the bitterness of inferior coffee. Perfectly brewed fresh espresso doesn’t need lemon. I know Ed’s skate wing didn’t. He also boiled cuttlefish and made a salad with canned tuna packed in oil, sliced fresh tomatoes, and sliced raw Vidalia onion, and he fried cuttlefish once during the week. I took some leftovers home and cooked the fried cuttlefish in an omelet. Soft, rich, salty, crisp. Wow.
Ed and Ellie have been eating watermelon after every meal, now that the weather is heating up. It makes sense for them, as watermelon contains natural electrolytes. So the dried figs of winter are over, finally, and tucked into the back of the pantry, to be discovered by mice as the summer wears on.
This recipe is wickedly simple. The only hassle is prepping the fava beans. If you have a Parmesan cheese rind on hand, throw it in at the same time as the favas. It will lend a delectable richness to the soup.
2 ½ lbs fava beans in the shell
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
¾ cup chopped carrots
¾ cup chopped celery
1 heaping tablespoon garlic
1 cup chopped skinned and seeded tomatoes
2 cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Prepare the fava beans. Shell the beans. You should have about 3 cups of beans. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over a high heat and add the beans. Boil the beans for about 2 minutes, then drain. Allow the beans to cool enough to handle (You can refrigerate the beans for 24 hours before continuing if you like). Remove the skins: pinch a half moon of skin off one end of the bean with your finger and squeeze the flesh out the opening. You will end up with about 2 cups of fava bean flesh.
Heat the oil in a medium sized soup pot over a medium heat. (I use a ceramic soup pot—it holds the heat very well.) Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the celery begins to soften. Add the fava beans, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over a low heat for 50 minutes, until the tomatoes are totally broken down and the vegetables are soft.
Adjust the seasoning and serve garnished with the parsley. It’s great with a piece of bruschetta, a green salad, a piece of cheese, and a glass of wine.