HIDALGO: Caldo de Habas

In her amazing cookbook, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy describes Caldo de Habas: “This is the most delicious version of dried fava bean soup that I have ever eaten. Even those who say they can’t stand cilantro will eat it in this soup – providing you don’t let on.

This recipe is from Hidalgo, a state in central Mexico, named after one of Mexico’s “Founding Fathers.” In this case, that is almost a literal reference: Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor was a Catholic priest and one of the leaders of the Mexican War for Independence from Spain.

While I wouldn’t call this soup “revolutionary,” I think it has become one of my favorite soups. It is a simple soup but it really packs a deep, subtle flavor.


Caldo de Habas – Dried Fava Bean Soup

8 ounces dried, peeled yellow fava beans (about 1 ½ cups)

2 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil, (plus 2 tablespoons for the chiles)

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 – 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

10 cups hot water

10 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

To serve:

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 pasilla chiles, fried and crumbled

Rinse the dried beans well, removing any loose piece of skin that might remain.


In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the beans, together with the onion and garlic until the beans are slightly brown. Add the tomatoes and fry over high heat until the mixture is almost dry (about 3 minutes).


Add the water, cilantro and salt and let the soup cook over low heat until the bean are very soft and disintegrate easily (about 3 hours depending on your beans).


While the soup is simmering, cut off the stems, clean and remove the seeds from the chiles. Chop the chiles roughly into small pieces and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped dried chiles and fry for 20 – 30 seconds, stirring quickly to keep them from burning. Remove from the heat and drain the chiles on paper towels.


When the soup is ready, serve in a bowl topped with some olive oil and some crumbled pasilla chile on top.


Make sure to use dried, peeled yellow fava beans.  This is the kind I used.

These are a few links about the State of Hidalgo, Mexico

Hidalgo – Mexico Tourism Board

History of Hidalgo

Wikipedia- Overall Information about Hidalgo

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