A favourite spanish dish from ” The Cooking of Spain” by Elizabeth Luard. It is best made when the broad beans are small and tender and the pods can be included. You can use older podded beans or frozen ones if later in the season. It is lovely with thick slices of bread, rubbed with garlic and trickled with olive oil. Any leftovers, drained of extra juices, make a very good tortilla.
Top, tail and string the beans and chop them into short lengths, more or less following the swell of each bean.
Tie the parsley, bay leaf and thyme into a little bunch.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Put in the onion and garlic and fry for a moment without colouring. Add the beans, the bunch of herbs, the ham ( if using), sherry or wine and water.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat then cover and stew gently for 1- 1 1/2 hours, checking and adding more water if needed. When the beans are tender add salt, pepper and a little sugar.
Increase the heat and continue to cook, uncovered, to evaporate all but a rich slick of oily juice. Remove the herbs then stir in the breadcrumbs, herbs and lemon.
Top each portion with a quartered hard boiled egg if serving as a main course.