This Moroccan fava bean soup (bissara soup) is creamy, full of flavor, and uses just a few simple ingredients before being pureed. This traditional fava bean soup recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Like most Moroccan recipes, this one has a very special place in my heart. It's one I grew up eating with my family during the hot summer months in Marrakech.
If you like this popular recipe, you will love Harira, another very traditional Moroccan soup.
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Bissara: a popular Moroccan soup
Bissara, as this soup is called in Morocco, is a plant based soup made with dried fava beans, spices and olive oil. The result is a buttery broth that’s super satisfying with another light drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika and a slice of freshly baked bread.
This affordable bean grows easily here in the Pacific Northwest summers (and in regions of Morocco) and packs plenty of flavor and nutrients.
While I tend to make this in our kitchen during the winter months, in Morocco it's not uncommon to be served a bowl on the hottest summer day.
During many of my families summer trips back to Morocco we would make pitstops during on long hot road trips. My father would order us bowls without question and after drinking our soup we always felt puzzlingly cool.
All that is to say that while I tend to enjoy this soup in the Winter, you can make it any time of the year.
The ingredients for this fava bean soup are ridiculously simple. Once you find the fava beans (more on that below) the rest are pantry staples.
Here's what you'll need:
- dried split fava beans
- 1 chili pepper
- olive oil
And that's it!
If you like to get fancy with your soup toppings (like me) here are some of my favorites for Bissara:
- torn toasted bread
- lots of paprika and cumin
- flakey salt
- baby sage leafs
- a drizzle of olive oil
1 bowl, 2 steps
This Bissara recipe earns major brownie points for being hassle free in both clean up and instructions.
As long as you've got an immersion blender, you shouldn't have many dishes beyond your soup pot. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in batches in your stand blender.
Once you've picked out which pot you're going to use, it's as easy as bringing all the ingredients to a boil for 45 minutes, then pureeing.
You'll notice that as this soup cools it will thicken significantly. This is normal. Just add a splash of water (taste to see if it needs any additional salt) and mix well before heating it up.
The leftovers are delicious and should last up to 7 days in an airtight container in your fridge.
How to Cook the Fava Beans
Rinse beans if necessary (sometimes they can accumulate dirt in transportation, similar to rice).
Add all ingredients to a heavy bottomed soup pot. The beauty of making fava beans is how quickly they cook.
Bring everything to a boil, lower heat to low and cover, leaving a crack open and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are soft.
Watch and add more water if things are looking too dry.
How to Purée Soup
Puréeing soup is a really fun way to create a smooth, creamy and homogonous texture.
It's a great trick for soup recipes that are vegetable based, like this one!
Blend with an immersion blender or stand blender in batches (remember if you're using a stand blender to keep the lid vent open so the hot soup doesn't explode everywhere).
Serve this bissara recipe with a drizzle of olive oil, toasted torn pieces of bread, a sprinkle of paprika and cumin.
Fava beans: where to find them
Growing up in Olympia, Washington, there weren't a ton of Arab markets to shop at. Who am I kidding? There were no Arab markets to shop at.
That meant driving an hour plus up to Seattle (to a shop called Pacific Food Importers) to find dried fava beans for this soup.
And you better believe my dad was making that trip only a few times a year, and stocking up on enough beans to last months.
Nowadays, you can find dried fava beans at most fancy grocery stores.
My favorite spot to find them here in Portland? Arab markets!
The local Arab market down the street has 2 pound bags for $4. You really can't beat that. If they're not available anywhere close to you, you can find them online here.