Monday, 21 June 2010

Kusksu (Maltese Spring Soup)

This soup is traditionally made in May when fresh broad beans are at their best and almost always served on Good Friday. With frozen broad beans available it's now made all year round, but is still delicious. It was a major comfort food for me and everyone has a preference on how it is served, some families add cauliflower, others peas or potatoes.

My mother would crack an egg into hers to poach, I loved to scoop on some ricotta, which would then set in the hot broth, best though is fresh Maltese sheep cheese, collectively called ġbejniet.

Kusksu (Maltese Spring Soup)
Serves 4-6 - About 200 cal per serving, not including garnishes.

2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion (about 200g), finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
120g tomato concentrate
180g dried kusksu (sometimes labeled as Israeli couscous, pasta beads will be fine or orzo pasta in a pinch. The one I get is a Neil's Yard one available at Holland & Barret)
300g broad beans (fresh is better, but frozen can still be used, skins removed from the larger beans)
1.5 L water or chicken stock
5 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp torn, fresh basil

To garnish (optional):
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
or preferably fresh ġbejniet (Maltese cheese) - if you can get a hold of it!

1. In a large pan, heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until it starts to brown.

2. Add the tomato paste, fry for a few more minutes, add the broad beans (if using frozen, add later with the couscous), seasoning, bay leaves and half the basil.

3. Pour in the water (or stock), bring to the boil, then reduce heat so it gently simmers.

4. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stir in the kusksu cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Check the seasoning and turn off the heat

5. Serve in bowls with a dollop of ricotta or ġbejna, or poach an egg in the broth before serving. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan and fresh basil.

(Image appreciatively stolen from here as we got carried away and ate the soup before we could take a picture! Though my variation doesn't use peas, you can add them if you like).

No comments: