Bessara - Moroccan Fava Bean Soup
Bessara, also known as beyssara or beyssar, is a flavorful fava bean soup from Morocco which can also be served as a dip. Bessara is a typical breakfast dish, especially popular during winter, that makes for a hearty meal to start the day. If you aren't big on breakfast, bessara is just as enjoyable and satisfying at any other time of day.
- 1 lb dried fava beans (broad beans) - whole or peeled and split
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 cups of water
- 1.5 tblspoon ground cumin, lightly pan-roasted
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 white onion, chopped (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- For garnish (optional)
- hot paprika, cayenne pepper or chili powder
- ground cumin
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- Soak the beans in cold water overnight.
- Drain the beans and remove their skin (if you bought whole beans, split beans should already have skins removed)
- Add the peeled beans, crushed garlic, water and salt to a large pot.
- Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cook for 5-10 minutes and then remove any froth that forms on the top of the water.
- Cover the pot and continue to cook over low heat for about an hour or until the beans have softened to the extent of breaking down or can be easily mashed between your fingertips.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onion over medium in a bit of olive oil until soft and beginning to brown.
- When the onion is about ready, add the cumin and paprika to the pan and toast until fragrant.
- When the beans are ready, add in the onion and spice mixture along with the olive oil and lemon juice and let it continue cooking for 5 minutes more.
- Using a blender or a hand mixer, blend the soup until it acquires a smooth, velvety texture.
- Return the soup to the pot and reheat over low. If the soup is too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out.
- Season with salt and crushed black pepper to taste.
- Serve hot with a generous swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of cumin and hot paprika, chili powder or cayenne, minced garlic, chopped cilantro or parsley, a lemon wedge and warm flatbread.
Rather than garnishing each dish yourself, you can leave the garnishes on the table and let each person add them to taste. Bessara can be served either as a soup or a dip. To make the dip, just use a bit less water and continue cooking it until it thickens to about the consistency of hummus. When served as a soup, bessara should be thin enough to pour into a bowl but thick enough to scoop with a piece of bread. If you prefer to use frozen fava beans, the cooking time will be much shorter, about 30 minutes. When using frozen fava beans, blanch them to easily remove their skins before adding them to the pot with garlic, salt and water.