Continuing with the ‘waste not, want not’ theme, we shall now make one of my favourite soups. Aw shucks! A little research shows that bean casings are not what I call them, hence the name in the title. I have found scant evidence that this soup is a pan-island staple, perhaps because the ingredients are quickly consumed cooked and eaten in the same way they eat cabbage or horta. That is hot or cold and lined up for a swimming lesson in a sea of lemon juice or sometimes vinegar. Unlike the Cretans, I don’t have a huge appetite for an excess of lemon or salt, but I do love to shower pepper onto hot horta or similar boiled vegetables.
I hated broad beans as a kid; maybe they were too big or too old, but they had what I remember as a bitter iodine taste. Nowadays, I love broad beans, what the Greeks call κουκιά (pronounced koocha in Crete) but preferably a little ‘narrower’ in their immaturity – their youth, their tenderness, their sweetness. Before you liberate the beans from their pods or shucks, consider what you are missing by just discarding the pods because, apart from other things, they make a sooouperb and tasty soup. Don’t make the mistake I made the first time I tried to salvage the pods. Do not remove the beans first or you make life hard for yourself and why do that when others do it all the time?
First thing you must do, is remove the strings that run down both edges of the pod. It is best to do this with a sharp knife, but impatiently I used a potato-peeling gadget, which takes the strings and a fair old chunk of pod too. The de-stringing must be done conscientiously otherwise you’ll be fishing out bits of pod ‘string’ from your teeth when you consume your soup...I hate that! Why don’t you just sieve it, I hear you cry? Go on then have it your way, plus you’ll have a sieve to wash-up too.
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