I’ve been on a spring soup rampage. I made this Fresh Broad Bean Soup with Tarragon and Mint because I’m so inspired by all the produce I’ve seen lately. If case you haven’t noticed, spring seems to have really arrived.
You know it’s spring in Los Angeles not because the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are blooming. You know it’s spring because the markets and restaurants are exploding with fresh vegetables. Look around and you’ll see baby purple artichokes or those big fat asparagus spears that make only a brief seasonal appearance every year. Skinny asparagus is great for summer grilling, but the monster spears of April and May make me smile like no other vegetable can. I’ve even seen rare appearances of crisp puntarelle at the market recently. It’s a chicory-like green with Roman roots.
These beauties are of course the glamor girls of the season. Well these and sweet peas and fava beans of course.
You know I love fava beans. I’ve mentioned our passionate affair before. But fava beans are part of a broader category of beans called (naturally) broad beans. Where I grew up there’s a particularly delicious type of broad bean known as Butter Beans. They’re hard to find outside the Southern part of the United States so you may not be familiar with them. They’re like great big, cream-colored, extra-squishy Lima Beans. I realize that Lima Beans are one of the most maligned of all beans, but I think they’re a beacon of spring. Lima Beans, like all broad beans, are worth a little of our attention this time of year.
In mild regions like California they’re planted in early winter and get some of their acclimating done underground through our wet, almost cold weather months. They begin to emerge in late March. By April tiny, sweetly delicate Baby Lima Beans start enticing me to explore simple ways to feature them in my meals. One of those ways is in this simple broad bean soup. GREG