Sicilian Maccu: Whole Fava Bean Soup

Sicilian Maccu: Whole Fava Bean Soup

by Nick Saltmarsh March 19, 2013 2 Comments

This rich whole fava bean soup is said to have been eaten in almost every Sicilian home since Roman times. It's delicious as a soup but can also be left to set and cut into slices and fried.

This deliciously thick and rich soup of whole fava beans (known as fave in Italian) is traditionally served to celebrate the coming of spring, often marking the feast of St Joseph on the 19th March. The dish is said to take its name from Macchus, a gluttonous character of Roman comedies.

Maccu sets when cool and is also delicious eaten as cold slices or fried in breadcrumbs.

This soup can also be made with split fava beans. Using split fava beans avoids the need for soaking and gives a smoother and creamier texture.

Serves 6


  • 400g Whole Fava Beans or 2 x 400g cans Whole Fava Beans in Water; alternatively use 400g Split Fava Beans

  • 1 leek (optional)

  • 1 onion (optional)

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 3-4 sprigs oregano

  • 1 bunch fennel leaves (the leafy part of a fennel bulb will do) or 1tsp fennel seeds

  • Olive oil

  • Chilli flakes

  • Salt

  • Black pepper


  1. If using dried Whole Fava Beans, soak the beans overnight, then drain, place in a pan, cover with water or stock and cook until tender – about 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, 60 minutes if boiling.
    If using Canned Whole Fava Beans in Water, simply open the cans, drain and rinse the beans.
    If using dried Split Fava Beans, place the beans in a pan, cover with water or stock and cook until tender - about 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, 45 minutes if boiling.

  2. If you’re using the leek and/or onion, chop and sweat in olive oil while the beans are cooking, then add to the beans.

  3. Chop the fennel (if using leaves) and garlic finely, and remove the oregano leaves from the sprigs.

  4. Add the fennel, oregano and garlic to the beans, and continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Blend thoroughly to break up the beans and other ingredients and give a thick, creamy consistency.

  5. Serve drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and sprinkled with a few chilli flakes.

Nick Saltmarsh
Nick Saltmarsh


2 Responses

Nick at Hodmedod
Nick at Hodmedod

February 19, 2016

Hi Myles
Sorry, that could have been clearer – after cooking the remaining cooking water should be sufficient to provide the liquid base for the soup, though you may need to top up during cooking if you’re using split fava beans or add water to just cover the beans if using canned beans.
Best wishes, Nick

Myles Hoenig
Myles Hoenig

February 17, 2016

What’s the liquid base and how much?

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