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Fava Bean Bisque


This soup can be thick as porridge or almost bisque-like.

Serves 8


  • 1 pound dried fava beans
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoons paprika (Use the best paprika you can find; Pimenton–a Spanish smoked paprika–is best.) As an alternative or in addition to paprika, use cayenne and/or harissa* to taste)
  • 2 quarts water or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons salt (to finish)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

*Harissa is a Middle Eastern condiment that can be found in ethnic food sections of better stores. It will impart a more complex flavor than cayenne alone.


  1. Soak beans in cold water for several hours, drain, rinse.
  2. Toast cumin seeds in a hot skillet until fragrant. Allow to cool, then grind in a coffee mill. (If a grinder is not available, leave the seeds whole but see note in step 6.)
  3. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a pot, saute garlic until light brown and nutty smelling, add cumin, 2 tablespoons of the paprika, harissa or cayenne, mix well and heat the mixture further to combine flavors.
  4. When fragrant, add the beans, then add water or chicken stock to cover.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer slowly for 1 hour or until beans are very tender (add liquid as needed to keep beans submerged).
  6. When beans are very tender, remove the liquid mixture from heat and pur?e in blender.) This soup can be made as thick as porridge or lighter, almost like a bisque–adjust the amount of liquid to suit your preference. Note: If you did not grind the cumin seeds in a coffee mill in step 2, pour the puréed mixture through a strainer now to remove them.
  7. Adjust seasoning for salt and desired heat by adding cayenne or harissa.
  8. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over low heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons paprika. Stir well and heat. Allow the mixture to rest to infuse the flavors; stir again just before serving.
  9. Ladle soup into a bowl and drizzle paprika oil on top.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!