Bissara topped with spices and an olive

Bissara, also known as Bessara and Besarah (Arabic: “بصارة“) is a soup and a bean dip in North African cuisine, prepared with dried, puréed broad beans as a primary ingredient. Additional ingredients include garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, hot red pepper, cumin, and salt.  Bissara is sometimes prepared using split peas or chickpeas.

Soup or Dip? It depends how much water you add! Mine started out nice and soupy, but the leftovers were thicker than hummus. I just added extra water when I reheated it and brought it back to a soupy consistency.

Bissara is a Moroccan soup/ dip that is especially popular in the winter, and usually served with Moroccan flat bread. The Egyptian version is always served as a dip and contains herbs and leafy greens.

I’d recommend splurging for a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil for this. The olive oil garnish drizzled over the top really completes this dish. If you can grind your own spices fresh that will also put the flavor over the top.

Fava beans have an inedible skin, which can be removed once they are soaked. Or you can buy peeled beans.* Nancy at learned how to make Bissara from a street vendor in Morocco named Mustapha who says that the small fava beans are better than the large ones. I suspect in much of the USA you’re not going to have much in the way of options and will have to make do with whatever you can get. Even Amazon didn’t immediately show me different size options. You can also make the soup with split pea.

Edited 11/18/19: I made bissara again, with split peas this time. Still tasty. The color is a little greener compared to the fava beans, which make it about the color of hummus.


Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: approximately 1 hour.

3 cups split dried fava beans
3 cups split green peas
3-4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs parsley
5 ¼ cups water
3 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (plus more for garnish)
1 teaspoons salt
⅞ teaspoons sweet paprika (plus more for garnish)
¾ teaspoons black pepper

1 black olive, for garnish
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (subbed for some of the olive oil)
½ teaspoon hot paprika

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse.

Add the bean to a soup pot alng with garlic cloves, parsley and water and bring to a boil. Skim any foam or scum off the top and simmer until very soft, about one hour. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add olive oil and spices and puree until very smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste, and add additional water if your soup seems too thick.

Garnish with olive oil and additional ground cumin and paprika. Serve with flat bread .

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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