You can make this Lebanese soup with a light chicken stock, but the leek trimmings, an onion, a few extra wax beans, and cilantro stems will make a fine vegetable stock. In either case, the stock should be delicate enough that it doesn't overwhelm the vegetables.
Very small fava beans needn't be peeled, but larger ones (thumbnail size) should be. Peeling is time consuming, but silky orbs of shimmering green are the payoff.
3 cups vegetable stock or light chicken stock
1 cup shelled fava beans, about 1 1/4 pounds pods
5 very slender leeks, white parts plus an inch of the greens, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
12 yellow wax or other fresh beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons slivered mint leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pita bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Heat the stock. Add the fava beans if they're small, along with the leeks, onion, garlic, and wax beans. (If the favas are large, blanch them separately for 1 minute, then peel and add them to the soup with the zucchini.)
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Add the zucchini, simmer for 10 minutes more, then stir in the herbs. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to rest so that the herbs can infuse the broth.
3. Meanwhile, cut or tear the pita bread into small pieces and fry in the olive oil over medium-high heat until crisp and golden. Serve the soup with several pieces of bread floating in each bowl.
Adapted from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets by Deborah Madison (Broadway Books, 2002). Copyright 2002 by Deborah Madison
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