Dried Fava Soup with Mint and Guajillo Chiles Recipe

Easily one of the best, most interesting soups I've cooked in years. Adapted from a recipe in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen - a dried fava bean and roasted tomato base topped with a fascinating cider-kissed tangy/sweet quick-pickled chile topping.

Dried Fava Soup with Mint and Guajillo Chiles

The way I approach cooking generally falls into one of two camps. Often I have an idea of what I want to make, and I simply set out to realize that. Other times I like to follow the lead of another cook or chef. Put myself in their hands completely. When it comes to the latter, I find myself combing cookbooks and magazines looking for recipes highlighting unexpected, interesting flavor combinations or techniques. I look for ideas and approaches that are new to me, or ways to use an ingredient I'm not particularly well versed in. I often turn to books that have strong roots in a specific place or in a traditional cuisine. This is a practice I try to keep up a couple times a week, and I have to tell you, the rewards can be great. This soup is a prime example. It is from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, a book originally published nearly 15 years ago. The soup is a fascinating pairing of a dried fava bean and roasted tomato base topped with a cider-kissed tangy/sweet quick-pickled chile topping. The topping calls for Mexican oregano, fresh cilantro and spearmint, and the green notes balance the earthiness of the chiles. Easily one of the best, most interesting soups I've cooked in years.

Dried Fava Bean Soup Recipe

Aside from discovering a great recipe like this in Rick's book, one of the other things I really appreciate is the way he always provides alternate suggestions for recipes. He often includes vegetarian suggestions, shortcuts, and suggestions for advance preparation. For example, he includes a few lines about how do a Moroccan inspired version of this soup by omitting the chiles and incorporating saffron, ginger, and chile flakes. He also includes a version with huitlacoche and mint.

I rewrote the original recipe to reflect a few minor tweaks I made. The most significant, using dried guajillo chiles in place of dried pasillas and using my broiler to cook the onions and tomatoes.

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Dried Fava Soup with Mint and Guajillo Chiles

Rick's recipe called for dried pasilla chiles, but I had guajillo chiles on hand, so that is what I used - delicious. And for the vegans out there - simply skip out on the cheese.

1 pound / 16 oz / 450g hulled dry fava beans, rinsed (see photo for reference if needed)

8 cups / 2 liters good vegetable broth or water
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large white onion, sliced 1/2-inch / 1 cm thick
1 1/2 pounds / 24 oz / 680g ripe tomatoes

6 medium dried guajillo or pasilla chiles, stemmed & seeded

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup / .25 oz / 10g loosely packed chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, pref. spearmint
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g crumbled Mexican queso anejo or feta

Make sure the dried fava beans are clean and free of dirt. Place in a large soup pot and cover with the broth. Simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, until very tender, about an hour. The beans should be starting to fall apart at this point.

While the beans are simmering, roast the garlic in a heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until you get black spots all over, and the cloves have softened up - about 15 minutes. Cool a bit, remove the papery skins, chop finely and set aside. Now, you'll want to caramelize the onions a bit as well. I used my broiler, but you could also do it in a dry skillet or on a grill. In this case I placed the onions in a single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet, about 4-inches / 10cm under a hot broiler for 4-5 minutes on each side, until soft and deeply browned. Cool a bit, peel and finely chop. Use the same pan under a hot broiler to roast the tomatoes until blackened on one side, six minutes or so. Flip, and roast the other side, another 6 minutes. Cool a bit, then peel and chop, saving all the juices.

Add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes to the fava beans and simmer until the beans are the consistency of a coarse puree, 15-30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut the chiles into confetti-shaped flecks using scissors or a sharp knife. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chiles and stir for a minute, then remove from the heat. Add the vinegar, 3 tablespoons of water, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside and let stand for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, add enough water, if necessary, to bring the soup to the consistency of a medium-thick bean soup. Let the soup come back up to a simmer, remove from heat, then stir in the mint, cilantro, and another teaspoon of salt. Taste, and add more salt if needed, but keep in mind the cheese is salty as well. Serve with a dollop of the chile mixture, sprinkled with a bit of the cheese.

Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from the Slow-Simmered Fava Bean Soup with Mint and Pasilla Chile recipe in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 100 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I've made this heavenly soup twice and it is delicious, but both times I've run into the same situation: the favas take hours to get to the falling apart stage. I didn't presoak either time, as per your's and Rick's directions, just rinsed and simmered. And simmered. Has anyone else encountered this? The end result is definitely worth it but I've had to plan ahead to make it.


I made this soup and it was perfect. The chili/vinegar topping makes the soup.


I made this the other night and it was phenomenal! Time consuming, yes, but well worth the effort. I did substitute the guajillo chiles with what I had on hand--dried ancho and chipotle peppers, and topped it with queso fresco. I believe the mint is what took it over the top.


I have been meaning to make this soup for a while. I finally got around to making it. I would recommend either cooking the beans in a pressure cooker or soaking overnight. My fava beans took almost 3 hours to cook.. and then the didnt cook completely either. While soup tastes pretty good, the fava beans didnt. I probably will try this with Baby Limas or something else. The beans ruined the soup for me. I think 3-4 hours is too much time spent on a soup.


I just made this soup. It was delicious! :}


I love soups that have beans in them - a great way to hide fantastic nutrition! I haven't tried fava beans in a soup before but this combination looks delicious. It'll be on my menu soon for sure!


I live in Italy and cannot find Mexican chilies, but I have some Peruvian chilies: Ajì amarillo and Ajì planca: is there any way of using them or the flavor would be totally different?


I made this soup yesterday night, it is really, really good. I have some useful hints for peoople having difficulties with finding mexican chillies (eg, in Germany): I used some dried peppers I found in a turkish supermarket. They are labelled 'dolmalik biber' and they are basically whole dried peppers. They are sweet and a bit smokey. I added a couple hot chillies for a kick. It worked great! I used eight of them. I also cooked fava beans using a pressure cooker: I had to stop after ten minutes because they make a lot of thick foam; next time I'll bring to the boil and skim it before closing the pot. Thanks for sharing this recipe. We loved it. HS: Thanks for the helpful comment!


It must be the time of year because all of these hearty soups are suddenly really appealing to me. I absolutely love the wonderful play of flavours for a truly unique meal.


The complexity of ingrediants sounds like an amazing combination.


I have many... Let me start by saying I'm eating this soup right now. It's beside me as I type. I can't stop pausing to take bites - it's incredible... however; Gawdamn was it hard! I have fairly a lot of time on my hands for cooking, but seriously, if I would have done everything exactly as instructed, dinner would have taken a year. (hold please - need more soup). My substitutions were many - but I did attempt to keep them to a minimum. Vegi broth? Check - used that. Dry roasted the garlic, onions, tomatoes? Yep, did all that, even though it was a total mess. Guajillos and mint? Yep - did exactly as instructed with those. I soaked the favas prior to simmering - maybe that's a mistake because they're still hard as rocks... I used feta instead of Mexican Anejo - not a problem. I used regular oregano instead of the Mexican variety. I used parsley instead of cilantro. And lastly, I didn't let the beans simmer long enough - some of them looked like they were 'falling apart' around the 30 minute mark so I just jumped on it, and finished the recipe at that point. I didn't let them simmer again. Nonetheless - the flavor complexity of this is divine.

Catherine Cole

So I made this with black garbanzos (kala channa, available in Indian stores) since my daughter can't eat favas, and added a can of hominy when I put in the garlic/onions. The garbanzos took longer to cook than the favas would have, but it was yummy soup! The guajillos were wonderful. I worried they would make the soup too spicy, but they are not hot, just flavorful. I suspect the pasillas would have been hot. I plan to make this again, perhaps with lima beans. Thank you, Heidi!


Heidi, I'm thinking about using dried lima beans in lieu of Fava (its what I have on hand at this moment). Any thoughts?


Hi Heidi! I love your recipes and am very excited to try this soup! I looked in my market and couldn't find guajillo or pasilla chiles...do they go by other names? I live in NYC and am sure I should be able to find them somewhere? HS: Hi Rupa, they should be there. Sometimes they hang bags of dried chiles in strange places. Any NYCers have a good go-to chile source?


this looks delicious, heidi! i'm definitely going to try it, it's so perfect for this time of year. HS: Hope you like it as much as I did Nikole. I'm going to make it again as soon as I get back from Italy for sure.


Oh I love Rick Bayless,,,totally inspiring food. And so lovely to find a different soup - will have to give this one a go. This weekend planning Mexcican Tapas feast from Rick's new book Fiesta at Rick's. Also love, love your blog. Thx for all the wonderful inspiration.


The weather here has turned cold and this sounds like someting that my family would really enjoy. I like a little spice to warm the body when the weather is not at it's finest. The recipe looks wonderful.


I always think of Hannibal Lector when I hear "fava beans", but you have made them sound appetizing! A bowl of warm homemade soup would be perfect right now.


Heidi: so many of your recipes have become staples for us and thank you for leading us to yet another! I made this a few hours ago to the letter and the combination of flavours and goodness was just perfect. Gracias!


Thank you so much for writing about and posting this recipe. I've had that book for years, and haven't made much from it. Obviously I've just flipped past this recipe, because it wasn't even on my radar. I never would have thought to combine these ingredients, but I've got a pot bubbling away on the stove right now, and it smells wonderful. I can't wait to eat it. I think of myself as adventurous and capable in the kitchen, but clearly I need to step it up a notch :o) Thanks for helping me see this!


Heidi, I live in the east bay. Where did you find dried favas? Also did you have to soak them? This recipe sounds fantastic, can't wait to give it a go.


What a genius idea. I love chili vinegar sauces. You get all the flavour but its still so healthy.

jennifer Joyce

My first taste of a cookbook 101 recipe, served at a dinner party by Julie and James. A wonderful treat..so flavorful with the dollop of chili mixture and cheese on top and the pascillas. We live in Oregon and have a wonderful Mexican market near us to always get fresh pascillas, cilantro, and cheese...so good! Great to know how fast Fava beans cook and you don't have soak them or even skin the chili peppers! Thank you.


I love fava beans and it's so hard to find a good recipe to incorporate, so I absolutely love your incorporation of them into soup.


I am in love with this soup! I am so happy that winter is coming so I can make soup every day ;-)


This looks incredible and has been bookmarked!! My goal for this winter is to make some more soups. I love the kick this one has :)


You close your comments quickly, but I have a question for you on the Turnip Tart (or for any other loyal Heidi enthusiasts). We LOVE this. I make it with whatever greens I have, and they've all been successes. So, I'm overwhelmed with greens right now, and am tempted to make 3-4 batches of the filling and freeze them. Then I can pull out the filling, make a crust while it defrosts, and bake. Do you think it will work? To the extent that it makes a difference, I've been using a combination of skim milk and lowfat yogurt in place of cream. Thanks for your thoughts! And your recipes! (This soup looks beautiful, too!)


Hi Heidi~ Another delicious dish with absolutely gorgeous photos!!! I can't wait to make this one soon! .....Lisa xo

I love Rick Bayless and His program Mexico-One plate at the time. 15 year old book from wow! How did you find it? I love collecting old, vintage cookbooks from 30s, 50s's and yes even 80's too! I love fava beans so I think I will love this recipe too! Thank you.

Pam @ Cooking World

Just stunning, you are so Talented Heidi!!!


I heart Rick Bayless. soup looks great - i don't have that specific cookbook of his, but the one i do have has rarely led me astray.

heather @ chiknpastry

This soup is muy mexicano and Rick Bayless is one of the best Mexican cookbook authors. You may remember that earlier this year, he was a guest chef at a state dinner the Obamas held for President Calderon of Mexico. Fresh fava beans are in the stores now here in Mexico, and guajillo chiles are a favorite. I plan on making this recipe.

Cooking in Mexico

Heidi, this looks amazing!!! Any suggestions on a good substitute for tomatoes?


Wow, this recipe really hit home for me, my grandmother, who I miss dearly everyday, used to love Fava Bean soup, I really should make this in her honor, she would have loved it!


Oh my goodness. Yum. I need to follow recipes more often. Usually, I'm just trying to clean out my fridge!

The Leftoverist

WOW this looks intense and yummy! I think I may need to give this one a try!

sterling style

How is it you always seem to bring out the hunger in me (and my children - for that matter)?!?... if you want to visit Venice on your next Italy trip, you are MORE than welcome to come over... you can sign your cookbook for me ;) I could feed you as to my mother-in-law's Venetian specs... ;)


Made this last night with great success. I used a 28 ounce can of roasted crushed tomatoes just to cut time and it worked well. The only thing I will do differently next time is chop the peppers into super fine confetti-like pieces... coarsely chopping resulted in papery chunks in my teeth. Other than that the texture and flavors were really amazing. I'm definitely picking up Rick's book!

Anne Marie

Now I'm hungry!

Gaia - the Cook

It's funny how people gravitate to different recipes in the same book. I love this cookbook, it's one of my staples, but I have never made this soup. But you make it sound so wonderful - I will have to try it!


Yo! Heidi and posters, The most usual form of Fava beans in Australia are of the dried unshelled variety. To release the bean kernel from the hull (shell) and drastically reduce the cooking time you can soak the beans in water overnight or for a day and you will be able to slip off the hull. Some may be stubborn. If this happens you can free the kernel after 10-15 minutes of simmering in the broth or water. Lima beans are an excellent substitute. Chickpeas would be an experimental substitute. HS: Thanks! This is helpful.


This soup looks so tasty! What a nice way to welcome the summer-to-fall transition. I think Rick Bayless is fabulous - I can't wait to try this.


I love to try new recipes every fall. My last years recipe was a shrimp gumbo. It was great and I made it once a month until the weather got warm. I think I am going to make this tangy sounding recipe this year. I hope my family will like it as well as they did the shrimp gumbo.


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