Bessara soup recipe

  • Serves 4-6, freezes well
  • Easy

Make this tasty Middle Eastern soup - traditionally made with dried fava beans and a touch of chilli. Here's our handy recipe

Bessara soup recipe

Bessara is a very simple Middle Eastern soup, fragrant with cumin and garlic and just a touch of chilli.

It’s traditionally made from dried fava beans which are becoming easier to find – try online or large supermarkets – but you could use spilt peas instead. Both are easy to cook as they need no soaking and they are full of the sustaining goodness you would expect from pulses.

Greek butter bean and tomato soup


  • Cumin seeds 2 tbsp
  • Onion 1 large, finely sliced
  • Olive oil 2 tbsp, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • Garlic 3 cloves
  • Chilli flakes 1-2 tsp, to taste
  • Dried fava beans 350g, use yellow split peas if you can't find them in the shop
  • Vegetable stock 1.75 litres
  • Coriander leaves A good handful, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Step 1

    In a large heavy-based saucepan, dry fry the cumin seeds for a minute or two, taking care not to burn them. As soon as
    you smell their nutty aroma wafting up from the pan, tip into a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind.

  • Step 2

    Add the olive oil to the pan, along with the onion, and sweat for around 15 minutes until softened and lightly caramelised. Add the garlic, dried chilli and half the crushed cumin and fry for a further minute. Reserve the remaining cumin – it gets added at the end for a fresh boost of spice flavour.

  • Step 3

    Tip in the fava beans and pour over the stock. Bring up to the boil then reduce the heat a little and simmer steadily for about an hour or so until the beans are completely soft. Blend to a puree with either a stick blender or a liquidiser, adding a little extra water if it is too thick.

  • Step 4

    Add the remaining cumin along with the coriander and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • Step 5

    Pour into food flasks while piping hot, or chill ready for reheating on your walk.

Recipe by Genevieve Taylor