Bisarra – Moroccan Fava Bean Soup

Bisarra is a traditional Moroccan soup made with split fava beans and is pureed until smooth and creamy in texture.

Moroccan fava bean soup is full of flavor from cumin, paprika and other spices and is served with warm flatbread to mop up all the wonderful flavor.

Moroccan cuisine is a culinary gem to the world of cooking. Most traditional Moroccan dishes are full of warm flavors, and they also are full of all of the healthy benefits that the Mediterranean diet provides.

Located in north Africa, this small country has influenced food culture all over the world.

What you will love about this Bisarra recipe

You will love this Moroccan fava bean soup recipe, not just for its simplicity, but for its intricacy of flavors. It has a slight smokiness which comes from the cumin, and a little kick from the cayenne pepper and garlic cloves, yet the flavors blend so well together.

Not only is this recipe for Bisarra soup delicious, it is also completely vegan! No meat or animal products in this recipe whatsoever.

The texture of this dish when it is done is creamy and smooth, and it is perfectly soothing on a cold day.

Tips

Traditional Moroccan fava bean soup used to be made by soaking split fava beans for 24 hours, cooking them and then running them through a sieve in order to get a smooth texture and consistency at the end. Fortunately, modern technology has made things easier.

Using an immersion blender makes for an easy way to get the smooth texture at the end, and also cuts out much of the soaking time from the beans.

I highly recommend using an immersion blender for this recipe. If you don’t have one, a blender or food processor will come in handy to process the soup a little bit at a time, but it may be rather time consuming.

Ingredients

The main ingredient in this recipe is obviously fava beans. Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a culinary delight that is used all over the world. When they are fresh, they look almost like a green bean in a fuzzy pod, but we will not be using them fresh.

You will need to buy dried fava beans, and usually those come split. If you cannot find dried split fava beans at your chain grocery store, you will be able to find them at a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean store.

I have never seen dried fava beans at my grocery store, but I do live near a very great Mediterranean store which I frequent often, and they carry a variety of fava beans.

Other than the fava beans, the rest of the ingredients are simple and speak for themselves.

The ingredients for Moroccan Bisarra soup are:

  • Dried split fava beans
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Turmeric
  • Lemon
  • Water

How to make Moroccan fava bean soup

Typically, when using any dried bean, you need to allow time to soak them before cooking, or else you need to cook them for a long time before they are tender. I generally tend to soak dried fava beans for a minimum of 4 hours, if I’m making falafel I soak them for 24 hours.

When making Bisarra, I recommend that you soak your beans for some time also, or else cook them in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot for 25 minutes. For me, it’s just easier to put them in a bowl in the morning when I get up and by the time I’m ready to start on dinner, the fava beans are ready to cook.

If you decide not to soak them (because it’s not 100% necessary), you will need to add at least 30 minutes of cooking time, and maybe more water, in order to make sure they get soft enough.

Measure out 2 ½ cups of dried split fava beans and place them in a large bowl full of water and soak them at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours (preferable 6-8 hours).

In a large pot, add ¼ cup of olive oil and turn it onto medium heat.

Mince 6-7 (or 8) cloves of garlic and sauté them in the olive oil until fragrant and translucent.

Lower the heat and add the cumin, pepper, cayenne, turmeric and paprika and let it cook for one minute.

Drain the fava beans and remove any stray skins and add the beans to the pot. Pour in 7-8 cups of water and add the salt.

Bring the beans up to a boil, then reduce the heat bringing it to a simmer. Place a lid on top slightly cracked.

Let the soup simmer for about 1 hour. Check it after about 40 minutes to make sure that it is not running out of liquid.

If it seems that the beans have soaked up most of the liquid, add another cup or 2 of water.

Once the beans are soft, turn the heat off and squeeze half of a lemon into the soup.

Carefully blend the soup with an immersion blender, taking care not to lift it out of the soup while it is on.

You need to use caution when blending hot soups! Steam burns quicker than boiling water.

If the soup seems to be too thick, add some more water to thin it out. It shouldn’t be watery, but it should have some consistency to it without being too thick either.

Ladle the soup up into bowls and garnish with good quality extra virgin olive oil and a few dashes of paprika and cumin.

Serving Suggestions

Along with garnishing each soup with extra virgin olive oil, paprika and cumin, I also recommend serving this soup with some fresh hot pita bread. If you’ve never had fresh pita bread you are missing out and you should definitely check out this recipe for homemade pita bread!

Variations

Though it is not considered traditional, some recipes call for using half dried fava beans and half dried split peas.

Another way to add more flavor to this Moroccan bisarra recipe is to add vegetable stock in place of water.

Storage

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The soup will thicken as it cools, when you heat it up, add water as needed.

FAQ’s

Are broad beans and fava beans the same thing?

Yes, they are the same thing but they can vary how you find them at the store. When they are fresh, they look almost like a fuzzy green bean. When they are dried, they are removed from their green pod, split and packaged for easy storage.

Do I have to soak fava beans?

Technically you don’t have to soak fava beans when you plan on boiling them. If you don’t soak them, you need to add quite a bit of cooking time in order to get them to your preferred softness of texture.

Bisarra - Moroccan Fava Bean Soup

Print Recipe
Course Soup
Keyword fava, mint, soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Large stock pot
  • Immersion blender

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cup dried split fava beans
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 7-8 cups water
  • 2 ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ fresh lemon about 1 tablespoon

Instructions

  • Measure out 2 ½ cups of the dried split fava beans and place them in a large bowl of water to soak for a minimum of 4 hours *.
  • In a large stock pot, add ¼ cup olive oil and add 6-8 cloves of minced fresh garlic. Sauté on medium heat until fragrant and translucent.
  • Add the cumin, turmeric, paprika, pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir it together.
  • Drain the beans and remove any loose bean skins. Add the beans to the pot along with 7-8 cups of water and the salt.
  • Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat so that it simmers. Loosely cover it with a lid, leaving it slightly cracked.
  • Simmer the soup for 1 hour, or until the fava beans are very soft. Check it after 40 minutes and add more liquid if it seems to be running out.
  • Add the juice of ½ lemon and remove the pot from the heat.
  • Carefully submerge an immersion blender in the soup and blend it until it is completely smooth. Use caution!
  • If the soup seems too thick, add a little more water.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish the top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few dashes of paprika and cumin.

Notes

6-8 hours is ideal for soaking. If you choose not to soak the fava beans, you will need to add at least 30 minutes of cooking time to the recipe and add a little more water.