U’ Maccu (Sicilian thick soup of shelled dried broad beans and wild fennel)

This is one of the oldest and most traditional recipes in Sicily. A simple dish, in the past these beans were known as “meat of the poor”, as they are rich in water, proteins, fibers and mineral salts. Because of this and, above all, of low cost and easy availability, this food was part of the usual diet of the farmers.

The humility and simplicity of its ingredients contain the history, tradition and values of ancient rural Sicily.

Today, this dish survives thanks to the rediscovered important nutritional values, as well as to its delicious taste.

The soup can be accompanied by simple bread or, as in the case of my recipe, enriched with broken spaghetti or broken noodles. Undoubtedly, wild fennel remains an essential ingredient of this recipe and which, thanks to its intense and characteristic aroma, attributes character and originality to this wonderful dish of the Sicilian tradition.

  • DifficultyEasy
  • CostVery cheap
  • Preparation time8 Hours
  • Cooking time50 Minutes
  • Servingserves 2 persons
  • Cooking methodStove
  • CuisineItalian


  • 250 gdried broad beans (Cottoia from Modica)
  • 180 gbroken tagliatelle (or broken spaghetti)
  • 1onion
  • 1 bouquetwild fennel
  • q.s.extra virgin olive oil
  • q.s.table salt
  • q.s.ground black pepper


  1. – put the beans in a large bowl, completely submerge in water and leave them to soak overnight or for 8 hours;

    – drain the beans and shell them;

    – rinse the wild fennel and chop it finely;

    – slice the onion finely and put it in a pot with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil;

    – put the pot on the fire and cook over medium heat;

    – as soon as the onion starts to fry, cover the pot with its lid and put the minimum flame;

    – let the onion stew in its own liquid, then add the hulled beans and mix well for a few seconds;

    – pour hot water until the beans are completely covered with three fingers of water of the top;

    – adjust the flame to medium and cook for about 40 minutes (add the wild fennel after the first 20 minutes);

    – mix the beans often during the cooking and, towards the end, mash them well with a ladle to reduce them to a pulp;

    – alternatively, at the end of cooking, use an immersion blender to reduce the beans in a cream;

    – salt to taste;

    – add the pasta (if the soup is too tick then add 1 glass of hot water) and continue cooking until the pasta is cooked;

    – serve seasoned with a sprig of wild fennel, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper to taste

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