Cawl ffa is literally a ‘summer stew’, a basic staple of Welsh cooking. Cawl is usually translated as ‘soup’, but a cawl is hearty, a full meal in a bowl. In olden days the meat was eaten at one meal, and the leftover broth at the next.
The parsnips help make this stew surprisingly sweet, and the greens added at the finish make it, well, vernal. Mild, yet satisfying, it makes a clever, almost deceptive, dish. The recipe is a combination of Davies's favourite and Luard's.
Mountain lamb is sweet,
Valley lamb is fatter.
I therefore deemed it meet
To carry off the latter.
— Thomas Love Peacock, ‘The War-song of Dinas Vawr’
This is the summer version of a cawl; a winter version would lack the beans and include more root vegetables and probably some salt pork or ham; a harvest cawl would have new potatoes and lots of fresh herbs. If you can't find broad beans (also called fava beans, as they're known in the Middle East) where you live, substitute butter beans, the closest New World equivalent.
First served: Beltane 1993
Last modified: © April 1993