This Libyan Borlotti Bean stew is so super-rich and deeply savoury, it's hard to believe that this hearty, one-pot magic is made of just a few simple ingredients and ultra low-fuss. This soup is so straightforward that I'm sure once you've made it, you'll probably have it memorized.
A Simple Bowl of Comfort.
A bowl of bean soup will never sound like the most exciting meal⏤that is until it's placed in front of you. The savoury, rich, spicy scent drifts up at you, and suddenly that simple bowl of beans in a tomato-y, garlicky broth begins to speak to your soul.
Yeah, I did just overly dramatize a bowl of beans! But, simple recipes like this Libyan Borlotti Bean Soup are the most supreme form of comfort food that you only truly appreciate once it's placed in front of you. I think they deserve a bit of dramatization.
This recipe's real name is Fasoulia. This dish is very popular all over the Mediterranean; every single country has its own version of the recipe, and Libya is no exception. It's such a straightforward and delicious recipe that every single Libyan woman prepares this dish in her home!
Traditionally the Fasoulia is made with dried white beans like the Great Northern or cannellini beans, but those who know the Fasoulia is made with fresh borlotti will swear, but it's superiority for Fasoulia. If you've never tried fresh borlotti beans, be prepared to have your mind blown by how unbelievably tasty they are!
A Market Visit in Tripoli
I discovered this gem of a bean at the central fruit and vegetable market in Tripoli. A man stood at one of the vendors, desperately trying to haggle the price of the beans, which was extremely high for a bean. I asked my husband why this man was making such a fuss over these beans. He shrugged this shoulder and replied they must be his favourite, and the price is too high.
Upon returning home, I saw the same beans the man was trying to buy. Although I had never noticed these beans before, I decided to give them a try. I prepared the Fasoulia the traditional way, but I swapped out the usual beans for the fresh borlotti beans. From the moment I tasted this version, I was utterly blown away at the texture and taste of these beans; I couldn't believe I'd just found the best-kept secret to making the most delicious Fasoulia.
From that day forward, I swear by these beans, and I too would desperately huggle for these beans if I couldn't afford them.
Borlotti Beans, Sarah? Really? What? Where? Sigh*
By now, you're probably wondering about the borlotti bean, where to find and how to use them. Don't fret, my friend, I'll give you the deets.
Borlotti beans are also known as cranberry beans in North America; you can find them dried at most supermarkets. However, I still prefer the fresh bean to the dried for this recipe if I can't find them fresh, you can just stick to the dried Great Northern or cannellini beans.
You'll be able to find fresh Borlotti beans at most well-stocked produce stores or farms markets during late summer and early fall.
The only problem with fresh Borlotti beans is they are 100% seasonal, and you can only find them in the late summer and fall. I've been known to buy a 5kg bag of these beans every fall and store them for the winter. Once you try them, you'll understand my undying cult-like love for these beans. 🤞🏼
I can't recommend enough for you to stock up on these beans when in season and freeze them so you can enjoy them all winter long. You simply remove the beans from the pod and put them in a resealable bag. To use just take what you need for your recipe and add them to the pot frozen. Easy Peasy!
How to Choose and Use the Borlotti beans
- You cannot eat the pods of these beans; you shekel them and toss the outer pod.
- When selecting your beans, try to avoid the ones with a green-looking shell; the bean will mostly likely be immature.
- If your Borlotti beans are green, you can still eat them, I've never had an issue this them. They cook fine and taste the same.
- If the outside of the pod doesn't look the best, then take a peek inside and see if beans are good. That's all that matters.
⬇️ Here's a photo showing you the life of the borlotti bean; the green is immature, and the brown is a dried bean. ⬇️
Libyan Borlotti Bean Soup Shortcuts and Solutions
Use Canned beans. You simply add the beans into the soup 20 minutes before the meat is done.
Make it, Vegan! This soup is so tasty it can stand alone without the meat. Skipping the will cut the cooking time to just 30 minutes!!! One more reason to eat less meat.
Save on by time, using jarred garlic. Jarred garlic is a good option for people who have limited time. Just scoop out a teaspoon or two and add to the soup.
- Switch up the beans! Use Great Northern or cannellini can be instead
- Replace dried beans for the fresh.
- Add in celery with the onions it's not traditional, but it's a tasty addition.
- Swap the lamb for beef
Side Dishes To Serve Alongside This Soup
- Sourdough bread
- Crusty Baguette
- Pickled peppers & pickled vegetables
Mediterranean Borlotti Bean Soup Storage
This is one of those meals that becomes tastier the next day. Store leftover soup in an air-tight container for up to 3-4 days.
More Soup & Stew recipes
Libyan Borlotti Bean Stew
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 lb Lamb* see notes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon harissa optional
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon Bharat or 7 spice optional
- 2 cups fresh borlotti beans 1kg of fresh beans
- 2 cups water
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup cilantro or parsley finely diced
- Cook the Onions. Heat a 3qt pot. Add the olive oil and onions, saute the onions until lightly golden.
- Brown the Lamb. Once your onions are golden and have began become soft, toss in the lamb piece. Saute the lamb with the onions just until the lamb becoming brown.
- Season the Meat. Now, that your meat is lightly brown add your turmeric, cumin, and ground pepper. Stir the meat and onion mixture to evenly distribute the spices. Add in the tomato and harissa and again stir to coat the meat. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the Beans. Toss the beans into the pot with the meat mixture. Pour in 2 cups of water and give everything a stir. Cover the beans and cook for 45 minutes.
- Finishing Touches. Uncover your beans add in the garlic and if using add your Bharat of choice. Continue simmering for 8-10 minutes to allow the garlic to cook and the sauce to reduce and thicken. after 8-10 of cooking add in the cilantro. Stir and remove from heat.
- Serve. Scoop the bean soup in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle a bit of cilantro on top, and serve with bread and pickled peppers.