Broad bean soup

Broad bean soup

Zuppa di fave

Sharing Puglia
Alicia Taylor

The original food of the poor, the broad bean was a staple of the ancient Greeks who colonised Puglia. The gladiators believed they got their strength from this nutritious bean. For this recipe you can use either fresh shelled beans, frozen beans that have been thawed at room temperature, or dried beans.


Quantity Ingredient
230g shelled fresh, frozen or dried broad beans
200g fresh or frozen peas
120g pearl barley
1 onion, thinly sliced
60ml olive oil
125ml tomato passata
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. If using dried broad beans you will need to soak them in cold water overnight. Once soaked, drain them well and slip off their outer skin. Place the beans in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid to use in the soup. (You can use this reserved cooking liquid in place of the stock.)
  2. If using frozen broad beans thaw them well at room temperature and slip off the outer skin.
  3. Place the beans in a large saucepan, along with the peas (if using frozen), and boil over high heat for a few minutes until tender. (If using fresh beans and peas you can add them directly to the vegetable sauté below.)
  4. Place the barley in a saucepan with boiling salted water, cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes over low heat, until the barley is soft, but still chewy. Drain any left-over water and leave the pan covered until needed.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the drained broad beans, peas and the tomato passata, and cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Add the cooked barley and stir well.
  6. Serve the soup in individual bowls with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
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