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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Do you think this would work with canned favas? Or would I be wasting my time? HS: You could certainly give it a try, it looks like others have tried with some success.

A Teenage Gourmet

My love for soup knows no bounds and this soup looks so delicious. Definitely one to add to my must make list.


Can you use fresh fava beans instead of dried? It looks like Laura tried it with success. But I haven't tried it with canned.


Gorgeous. I love the simplicity of this and Rick is always a favorite for me.


Heidi you are a cook after my own heart! I love the way you describe your processes around using recipe books etc! I am EXACTLY the same, although at the other side of the world in South Africa. I agree those books with strong ethnic roots, and no pictures are great. Often they are junk shop or church bazaar treasures.


This looks delicious... perfect for Fall!


this may just be the answer for my early-fall blues!


Heidi, This is one intriguging recipe, I love Southwest flavors and I bet the mint and chilies with the fava beans is wonderful. Bon appetit! =:~)

Cajun Chef Ryan

was wondering what to do with all the tomatoes from my garden. got almost everything in the house so making this tonight!


A note to ApplesandOnions - Mexican oregano is really easy to find. You can look in the section of the grocery store that has all the inexpensive Mexican spices in the cellophane bags. A lot of the bottled oregano is Mexican also.


Oh this soup sounds so good and I love the book you reference here by Rick Bayless. It's a classic full of so many great recipes. I'm thinking the roasted vegetables add a ton of flavor to this soup, in addition to the wonderful mixture of herbs. Sounds like a winner. Thanks once again for the inspiration.


This soup looks amazing, with the deep red mingling with the pale green. But really, it's your description that inspires me to make it! Thanks.


Fabulous, Heidi...Love how you added the mint in there..what a tasty and delicious recipe! This is going on my weekend agenda to cook! Have a great day!

The Healthy Apple

Yum! The pictures look amazing! This is a recipe I just might have to try! Thanks, and I'm sure my husband will thank you as well!! www.Gourmetglitterati.com

Kristen Nicole

You've convinced me. I love Rick and his restaurants but for some reason I never just order his first book. I'm going to do it now. This looks lovely and I have a whole jar of dried favas that need using, Did you have an easy time finding Mexican oregano?


Hi Heidi! This is my all time favorite Mexican cookbook. Thanks for reminding me! Naomi :)


This sounds amazing and so up my alley. I just so happen to have some dried favas from my last trip to Italy in my pantry. Only one problem: in Berlin it seems impossible to find any Mexican/American dried chiles. What could I use instead? xo Luisa! I'll totally mail you some. This soup is alllll about the chile topping. And we've been putting it on all sorts of other things as well - melon salads, eggs, grilled vegetables.


I am a fava bean addict and this looks absolutely delicious. What a wonderful marriage of flavors. I think I'm going to try the Moroccan version...

Dina Avila

I'm just getting back into making soups again and this is going on my list!

Brian @ A Thought For Food

Sounds amazing-- I don't usually cook with fava beans, just because I don't feel like I know how to prepare them. Can't wait to try, and soup would be perfect on this cold day!

Megan Mountcastle

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