Tuesday 28 June 2011

Fava - Yellow Split Pea Soup

Little family traditions are very important to me and, I imagine, to most people. In my family most of these traditions revolve around food: the vast family Sunday meals, with the political discussions in the background of the heavenly food, the fresh fruit arriving with my parents in the afternoons (on market days) in the summer, sharing the brownie with my husband at the end of a long day etc. One of these traditions is also eating pulse on Fridays - remnant of religious traditions, I believe... These recipes are great for vegetarian/vegan meals and fantastic for sharing with lots of people. Specifically this time I cooked fava.

Confusingly, the term 'fava' in most countries means broad beans, but in Greece is a specific type of yellow split peas. I am not sure whether you can get this variety of yellow split pea in the UK, but it is slightly different to the one found in the UK. It is actually more 'split' or 'broken' than the stuff found here, but having used both (I often bring a kilo back with me from Greece) the flavour is very similar, though the texture does differ. The Greek variety seems to disintegrate more, creating a smoother soup, almost like a dip, but if you cook the variety found in the UK for a little longer, or blitz at the end of cooking, you will get a similar result. If you can somehow get your hands on fava from Santorini, then you are in for a treat, as it is world-renowned to be some of the best!

You can cook this as a starter or as a main, serve warm or cold. There are also different schools of thought in regards to how thick or loose the soup should be. I prefer it loose enough to be called a soup, but thick enough to not look like there is excess liquid in it - if that makes sense...

Serves 2 (as a main)

250g dried fava (yellow split peas)
4 spring onions or one small red onion
olive oil
1 lemon

In Greece the fava is often sold loose out of big bags and therefore you have to sift your way through for any potential stones etc. If you are sure there are none, then don't bother! Wash the fava under cold running water, thoroughly. Put in a heavy base pan and cover with water - water should cover the fava by about 1-2 centimeters. Put on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once at that point, reduce the heat to simmering and scoop any 'dirt' from the surface of the water and discard. Keep your eye on it for 30 minutes, adding water if necessary, not letting it boil, removing any other 'dirt' and stir occasionally so that the bottom does not burn. After 30 minutes check the consistency and add water if too thick, or boil a little harder while stirring to make it thicker. The fava should be completely soft - not al dente. Add salt and pepper and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. Chop the onions and sprinkle on top. Bread is always a good accompaniment.

PS. Once, a good friend of mine took us out for a fantastic Italian meal in Paris (yes, I am aware its the wrong country, but that's what happened!) and I had a pureed chickpea soup with beautifully cooked whole langoustines in it. Fava would also lend itself to nice langoustines or prawns, if you feel like a treat. In that case, I would leave the onions out!

1 comment:

  1. I think the Frog on the Green deli in Nunhead, nr. Sturdy Road, has the Santorini lentils. Or try the Indian version of split peas, the ones used to make dhal. I have had fava in Crete and absolutely loved it.