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Fava Bean Soup with Mint & Pasilla Chile

1 pound hulled dry yellow fava beans, picked over and rinsed
8 cups vegetable stock, or water
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large white onion, thickly sliced
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, (3 medium-large round or 9-12 plum)
6 dried pasilla chiles, about 2 oz. total stemmed and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil, + extra for garnish
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, up to 2 T (preferably spearmint)
1/2 cup Mexican queso anejo, finely crumbled or feta or Parmesan, optional

Place beans in large soup pot. Cover with stock or water and simmer
over medium-low heat, partially covered, until very tender and
falling apart, about 1 hour.

While beans are simmering, roast garlic on ungreased griddle or
heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until blackened
in spots and soft, about 15 minutes. Cool then slip off papery
skins and finely chop. On piece of foil in same skillet, roast
onion slices in single layer, turning once, until richly browned
and soft, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Dice onion. Roast tomatoes 4
inches below very hot broiler or in foil-lined skillet until
blackened on one side, about 6 minutes. Flip and roast other side.
Cool, then peel and chop, saving all juice.

Add garlic, onion and tomatoes to beans, Simmer until beans are
consistency of a coarse puree, about 30 minutes.

While soup is simmering, cut chiles into 1/8-inch slivers using
kitchen shears. Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add
chiles; stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat; add vinegar, water,
oregano and scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let stand at least 1/2
hour, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, add a little stock or water to soup, if
necessary, to reach desired consistency. Stir in cilantro and
mint. Season with remaining salt to taste. Ladle soup into warm
bowls. Spoon about a tablespoon of chile condiment into center,
drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cheese if using. Makes 10
servings.

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