Andalusia’s Dried Bean Soup for A Winter Weekend

A winter weekend soup that can more or less be an entire meal is a dried bean soup from Andalusia. Dried beans are popular everywhere in the Mediterranean.  They also have a flavor a tad different than the fresh bean, which means they are ideal in earthy and deeply flavorful soups such as this one from Granada in Andalusia in southern Spain called potaje de habas secas, which means in Spanish, very simply, dried bean soup.  Although this is an easy soup to make there is some long simmering involved to extract all that wonderful flavor that makes the soup so rich and delicious.  To get that rich taste you will need to use the pork parts listed in the ingredient list, although you don’t eat them.

Potaje de Habas Secas - Dried Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Andalusian
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup (about ½ pound) dried fava beans, soaked in water to cover for at least 6 hours, drained
  • ½ cup (about ¼ pound) dried chickpeas, soaked in water to cover for at least 6 hours, drained
  • 2 onions (1 small and halved, 1 medium and cut into 1-inch squares)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved (1/2 in one piece, ½ chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt and more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 pig’s ear (optional)
  • 1 pig’s foot
  • 12 cups beef broth
  • 1 link (6 ounces) Spanish or Portuguese-style linguica sausage, mild Italian sausage, or fresh Polish kielbasa, casing removed, meat crumbled
  • 1 pound spinach, heavy stems removed, washed well, ripped into smaller pieces
  • Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and more to taste
  • 4 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved
  • 8 toasted French or Italian country bread slices, lightly smeared with olive oil
  1. Place the fava beans, chickpeas, small halved onion, whole carrot half, and 1 bay leaf in a large pot and cover with cold water by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, season with 1 tablespoon salt, and cook until tender, about 1¼ hours. Don’t worry if the fava beans begin to split apart. Drain the fava beans and set aside. Discard the onion, carrot, and bay leaf.
  2. In a large flameproof casserole or soup pot, heat 5 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, then cook, stirring occasionally, the cut-up medium onion, chopped carrot half, garlic, and diced bacon until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, thyme, and remaining bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ham hock, pig’s ear (if using), and pig’s foot, then pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Remove the ham hock, ear, and foot. Remove any edible meat from the ham hock, cut into small pieces, and return it to the soup. Discard the remaining ham hock, ear, and foot.
  3. In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, then cook the sausage, breaking the meat up further with a wooden spoon, until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage, using a slotted spoon to leave the fat behind, to the soup and add the spinach, reserved fava beans, and saffron and season the broth with more salt, if needed and pepper. Continue to simmer the broth for another 15 minutes. Serve with the hard-boiled eggs and bread slices as a garnish.


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