Soup of Cactus and Fava Beans

posted: 06/30/10

Take Home Chef, Episode 81: Portia's Menu


  • 1 pound/450 g fresh fava beans, shelled
  • 1 pound/450 g fresh prickly pear cactus paddles (also known as nopales)
  • 3 tablespoons/45 ml olive oil
  • 6 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red jalapeno chilies, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups/1 1/2 liters chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup/about 7 g coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Cook the fava beans in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain the beans, then place them in a bowl of ice water. Drain again. Peel off the outer skin of each bean and discard the skin. Set the beans aside.
  2. Position the rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425?F/220?C. Scrape off the thorns from all sides of the cactus paddles. Cut the cactus paddles lengthwise in half then cut each half crosswise into thin strips. Toss the cactus strips on a heavy, large baking sheet with 1 tablespoon/15 ml of olive oil to coat, then roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cactus strips are tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes, onion and whole garlic cloves to the cactus strips, then return to the oven for 25 minutes or until the vegetable are pale golden. Remove the peel from the garlic. Coarsely chop the garlic and tomatoes. Set the roasted cactus strips, onions, tomatoes and garlic aside.
  4. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons/30 ml of olive oil over the bottom of the pan. Add the chilies and saut? for 1 minute or until fragrant and tender.
  5. Add the roasted cactus strips, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the beans are tender. Add the cilantro and cook for 1 minute longer. Spoon off any excess oil that rises to the top of the soup. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and serve immediately.
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