North African broad bean soup

North African broad bean soup

Bessara

By
From
Hazana
Serves
4
Photographer
Mowie Kay

Bessara or bichra (broad bean soup) is made by Jews all over North Africa. In Egypt, it usually includes a mixture of coriander, parsley, dill, mint and dried melokhia – also called Jew’s mallow, which can be found in most Middle Eastern grocers. Tunisian Jews usually add a little potato to the soup and spice it strongly with harissa. This recipe comes from Fez, in Morocco, where it is often served for Sukkot or during Passover. Skinless split dried broad beans are best for this recipe, and are widely available in Middle Eastern stores.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
350g skinless split dried broad beans
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
40g finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Soak the beans for 2 hours, then drain. Place in a large saucepan with the garlic, onions, parsley and 1 litre water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, or until the broad beans are tender. Force through a sieve or puree in a blender, then return the soup to the pan. The finished soup should be very thick, but add a little hot water if it seems too thick. Add the spices and season with salt. Simmer for a further 10 minutes to blend the flavours. Just before serving, stir in the olive oil.
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