Crema de Habas: toasted fava bean flour. I bought this intriguing product for around $2.75 from the Peruvian aisle because I like beans and powdery things that claim to be nutritious.
Outside of South America, fava bean flour is most commonly used as a component in gluten-free baking mixes, along with its beany brethren, garbanzo flour. Toasting the favas is said to reduce the flour’s legume-like smell and flavor, although it smelled pretty damn beany to me. Gringos can buy toasted fava bean flour from Bob’s Red Mill for the humble price of $9/lb.
But in the spirit of Peru, I decided to follow the two recipes on the back of the package: Cream of Fava Soup and the more beguiling Bean Punch – a boozy tangy of Pisco and… beans.
Recipe #1: Bean Punch
1/4 cup fava bean flour
½ egg white
5 cups water
4-6 tbsp sugar or honey
Clove, vanilla, and cinnamon to taste
A glass of pisco
Simmer 4 cups water with cinnamon, cloves, and sugar or honey. Dissolve bean flour in a cup of cold water and add it to the water, stirring constantly, until ready to boil. Remove from heat and add the egg white. Beat until stiff. Add the vanilla and pisco. Beat with a spoon until foaming. Serve hot and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Makes 4 servings.
Uh… I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea. Luckily, the punch doesn’t taste like beans due to the low flour-to-liquid ratio. The beverage is faintly reminiscent of mulled wine or cider, and the pisco is actually quite pleasant served warm. But, after standing out for a few minutes the fava bean flour begins to separate from the liquid, making it even less appetizing.
Recipe #2: Cream of Beans Soup
1 cup fava bean flour
2 tbsp oil
½ onion, chopped
1 tsp of crushed garlic
4 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups water
To taste, oregano, salt and pepper
½ cup evaporated milk (optional)
In a pot heat oil, garlic and chopped onion. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. In a bowl, dilute 1 cup cream of beans in two cups of water and add to mixture, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. Makes 5 servings.
This reminds me of something that belongs in a hospital or 19th-century Victorian orphanage. Spooning the brown goop into my mouth I was overcome with feelings of malady and abandonment.
The taste is similar to split-pea soup, only blander. I would recommend brightening up the flavor with a bit of lemon juice and adding some spices like cumin. With enough tweaking, it could be made palatable enough to satisfy one’s hunger when they are too exhausted to prepare a real soup or put in their dentures.
Verdict: Pick up some Peruvian fava bean flour if you’re gluten-free and looking for a low-cost alternative to crunchy gringo brands. Otherwise, crema de habas may cause depression and premature aging.