Fava Bean Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche & Thyme Olive Oil


Fava Bean Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche & Thyme Olive Oil

I recently read recipe development instructions that stated: “should not include ingredients that are too obscure or aren’t available for the average cook, such as cumin.” Cumin! In a pinch, I’m pretty sure I’ve picked up cumin at 7-11 or the drugstore at midnight (sometimes you need tacos, guys). Living in California with a meyer lemon tree in my yard has probably slanted my perception of what counts as obscure, but surely cumin is common, right?

Earlier that same day, I plucked weeds from my backyard to garnish this fava bean soup.

Fava BeansThyme Olive Oil

Back when we were rolling crackers the size of our headsPhi told me in a very convincing way that the dainty white flowers in my yard were edible and picked a few for me to try first – “Truuuuust me.” Heck, the deer have been enjoying the flowers all spring, so they’re probably safe, right? I didn’t hallucinate (darn), and with that (along with some serious internet research on foraging weeds because I’m definitely not as easy-breezy as I pretend), my soup got decked out with weeds wild onion flower pretties.

While they taste faintly like chives, they’re really just for looks guys. Soup jewelry. They won’t make or break the flavor not one bit, but if you’ve also got wild onion flowers taking over your backyard, then by all means, dress up your soup.

I knew the oxalis sour grass was safe to gnaw on and have considered turning it into pesto, but wondered if I need also include an open invitation to come pick my weeds for your dinner in the recipe notes (anyone else have this yellow flowered clover taking over their yard?). So that’s on hold for now.

Fava Bean Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche & Thyme Olive Oil Fava Bean Soup with Thyme Olive Oil & Lemon Crème Fraîche

Today’s soup comes inspired from a similar starter my mom and I split at Rivoli last Thursday while celebrating finally submitting a full first draft of my dissertation to my advisor (!!). With two of my favorite spring crops – fava beans and english peas – this soup tastes like springtime in a bowl.

There’s something therapeutic about shelling fava beans. First you pull the seeds from their cushioned velvety pod, and after a quick blanch, pop the bright green bean out of its papery skin. When cooked up and puréed, fava beans mimic a creamy butter sauce in flavor and texture, but are also dense in nutrients. Vegetable witchcraft.

Fava Bean Soup with Thyme Olive Oil & Lemon Crème FraîcheSpring Fava Bean Soup with Thyme Olive Oil

Swirled with a bright lemon crème fraîche and drizzled with an herby thyme-infused olive oil, this soup is creamy, rich, and refreshing all in one bowl. This warm bowl of springtime legumes and fresh herbs bridges the gap between winter and spring as the sun peeks out to melt the snow for the rest of the country.

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Fava Bean Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche & Thyme Olive Oil
Yields: 2 main or 4 side servings
Fava Bean Soup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped shallot from 1 large or 2 small shallots
  • 2¼ cups shelled and peeled fava beans from 3.5 lbs fava beans in pods (Or 2¼ cups frozen peeled fava beans - available at Trader Joe's). See instructions below on how to shell and peel the beans.
  • ½ cup shelled English peas from ⅓ lb English peas in pods
  • ½ lb new potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (any small firm potatoes will do!)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼-½ teaspoon salt, to taste
Thyme Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
Lemon Crème Fraîche
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil over medium heat. Meanwhile prepare a large bowl of ice water. Remove the fava bean seeds from the pods by splitting the pods open. Blanch the fava bean seeds in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and transfer the beans to the ice water to cool. Once the beans are cool enough to touch, gently peel off the papery thin green skin, reserving only the bright green fava bean inside.
  2. Prepare the thyme-infused olive oil. Bring the olive oil and 4 sprigs of fresh thyme to simmer in a small pot. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature while you prepare the soup.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add chopped shallots and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
  4. Add the shelled fava beans, shelled english peas, chopped potatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, and 4 fresh sprigs of thyme to the pot. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the lemon crème fraîche. Whisk the crème fraîche and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Set aside while you finish the soup.
  6. When the soup is ready, remove thyme sprigs. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
  7. Pour the soup back into the pot over medium low heat and add the milk, cream, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Stir to combine until the cheese is fully melted. Season with salt to taste.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, swirl a small dollop of lemon crème fraîche into the middle, and drizzle with thyme-infused olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

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  1. I can just imagine how good the lemon creme fraiche and thyme olive oil taste with this soup. Such a pretty green! I am so glad you survived your weed-eating experience! ;)

  2. This is gorgeous looking soup Sarah! Wow, you did a beautiful job photographing it, and I’ll bet it tastes amazing. Pinned!

  3. I’m all for back yard foraging! Bring it on! This soup is just so gorgeous. The color is FAB. Have a great weekend, girlfriend!

  4. Your photos are always so jaw dropping gorgeous. Can I get some photography lessons from you? ;-) This soup sounds amazing by the way!

  5. Congrats on submitting your fist draft! That is so exciting Sarah! Bet you were celebrating that huge accomplishment. One step closer to completion! And this soup is just beautiful. Wish I had such “gorgeous” weeds as you do. And soup jewelry, I love that!

  6. Veronica says:

    Your photographs are gorgeous! What a beautiful recipe! Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventures in cooking! You inspire us all!

  7. suki says:

    I wouldn’t dare pick the weeds in my backyard for consumption, though at one point, we did have fennel growing back there. The backyard has since been converted into my dog’s bathroom. :P So definitely not noshing on those weeds (if any do pop up).

  8. This soup is super pretty! I adore eating flowers and those pretty weeds make me wish I had more growing in our backyard (and a friend who could identify what is okay to eat!) … we have a few dandilions and a ton of that creeping grass that I can’t remember the name of but definitely doesn’t make the cut for garnishing soup. This sounds so perfect for Spring though, I can’t wait till fava beans and peas show up at my farmer’s market!

    • Definitely couldn’t do it without Phi! I’d be too afraid to poison myself. I’ve seen different recipes with dandelions in them – mmm – I bet you could make something tasty with those!!

  9. Okay, firstly..this is the most beautiful soup I have ever seen. Holy smokes. Cumin?! OMG, that is too funny. Cumin is like..errrywhere! Also, soup jewelry is the most fabulous thing I have ever heard of and I love it. I can’t wait to forage up here in Alaska soon…ish. I love getting the bluebells and throwing them into salad!

    • AHHH – thank you so much Katie! This is such a huge compliment coming from you – your soups are always GORGEOUS. Also – right?! Cumin is like the most common spice there is. Can’t wait to see all your recipes with foraged flowers!

  10. Hah! I think I know exactly which recipe development instructions you’re talking about ;) I was plenty surprised by that too!

    You know, I’ve been eyeing those fava beans at my farmers market for a long time now, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I had though about making a dip with them. But after seeing this soup, I might have to put it to the top of my “to try” list! And YAYAYAY for submitting your draft!

    • Haha – I’m so glad someone knew what I was referring to and TOTALLY thought that was silly too;) You should pick up the fava beans – if ever a vegetable could taste like cheese, this is it!

  11. Marissa says:

    geez, where to begin? Congrats on the dissertation! Fresh fava beans are heavenly and heavenly is just how I’d describe this soup of yours. I’m jealous of your Meyer lemon tree and I’m smitten with those wild onion blossoms! I love chive blossoms, but hadn’t considered that onions might have them too. Great post, Sarah!

    • Thanks so much for the congratulations and the sweet words about my soup, Marissa! If only you lived closer I’d let you come pick meyer lemons and onion blossoms all day long:)

  12. This belongs on my pinboard. Too beautifulllllll and scrumptious! I love bean-y soups and this one sounds nothing short of amazing and even looks professional. And about the meyer lemon tree…tsk tsk, that whole time you didn’t even know you were more blessed than the rest of the US population. ^_~

  13. Pang says:

    Ok, who said it’s too warm for soup, I don’t think so, esp. this gorgeous soup :)

  14. Sarah says:

    If I were to use the frozen peeled fava beans from Trader Joe’s – which who am I kidding, I will. It’s an easy way :) what should I do to those prior to putting in the pot with the other ingredients?

    • I haven’t actually used Trader Joe’s fava beans, but from what I can tell online, it looks like they have been shelled from their pod, but they need to be blanched and the papery skin peeled off. You might be able to find frozen shelled and peeled fava beans at your major supermarket too – they’re also called “broad beans” and if you can find those, they’re ready to go and you’ll start at step #2!

  15. I have never had fava beans…seems unlikely considering all the obscure foods I cook with regularly! I had to laugh about cumin being called “obscure! What a joke!! Your soup looks beautiful!

  16. How lovely! I’ve been non stop with soups lately so this is easy on the eyes… ;)

  17. I’ve never tried a fava bean soup before (or fava beans for that matter) but this soup looks so delicious and I love the beautiful creme fraiche swirl going. There’s nothing I wouldn’t give for a bowl of this soup right now Sarah!

  18. Alanna says:

    Ahhhhhh so pretty Sarah!! <3

  19. Woow that soup is really perfectly styled! And it’s hard, with soup. My topping always sinks before I get a chance to take a pic of it hehe :)
    It also obviously sounds delicious! Nomnom!

    Wish you a lovely Saturday!

  20. This is so gorgeous!!!! And your photographs are stunning. I need a big batch of this today, even though its currently 85 degrees in my apartment and I’m sweating to death ;)

    • Oh gosh! 85?!?! How is that even possible?! I actually think this soup is best eaten just lightly warmed or at room temperature so it’s perfect for a hot day too:) Also – thank you so much, Laura!

  21. Phi says:

    can I come get the rest of your weeds?!?

  22. Wait, those clovers with the yellow flowers are edible, too?? My parents backyard has tons of them. I may just have to raid their backyard to try them.

    This soup is gorgeous! I love the flavor combo you have going here with the lemon and thyme. So perfectly Spring!

    • Yes!! Although I’ve read mixed reviews about not eating TOO many of them, but what constitutes “too many” is unclear…But they’re perfect for garnish!

      Thank you so much, Joy!

  23. Congratulations on submitting your first draft! So exciting!
    This soup sounds perfect for spring time, and even though we are just in the start of autumn, I know that it would be perfectly welcome on my dinner table any time. It’s just so pretty too!
    I think the local council near my parent’s house has planted something similar to your wild onions on the verge of the roads. There is always a slight oniony smell when I walk past. Although seeing what my dog does to those wild onions means I definitely won’t be garnishing anything with them….

  24. Jessica says:

    A) That is hysterical about the cumin. Let’s really over-think things here shall we?! Who wrote that and why should we obey her/him? Isn’t blogging the final frontier?
    B) So exciting to see what you did with the oxalis of which my backyard is still overflowing with. I should obviously make a lot a lot of soup to take advantage of it before it all dies. And cocktails. Mmm… soup and cocktails…
    C) Beautiful photographs as always but seriously these are sooooo gorgeous… the garnish and the oil and the creme fresh and the composition and the coloring OMG. You are killlllling it!!!!

    • A) Haha right?!
      B) I still haven’t done anything with the oxalis – eeeep! The deer really are mowing it down back there too!
      C) Thank you so so much!! This is the highest compliment from you, my friend!! <3 <3


    #notspam #justexcited

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