Bessara - Dried pea soup with cumin and argan oil

From Sam and Sam Clark of Moro Restaurant.

From Sam and Sam Clark of Moro Restaurant. Bessara – Dried pea soup with cumin and argan oil

(Serves 4)

  • 300g split dried green peas or dried shelled fava beans, rinsed well
  • 1¾ litres cold water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly pan-roasted and roughly ground
  • ¼–½ teaspoon crumbled dried red chilli
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ tbsp argan oil mixed with:
  • ½ tbsp olive oil, or 2 tbsp olive oil sea salt and black pepper
  1. Bring the peas or fava beans to the boil with the water and skim off any scum that appears.
  2. Simmer for between 40 minutes and 1 hour. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sweet and golden.
  3. Now add the garlic and cumin and fry for another 2 minutes until brown.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the dried chilli. When your beans are cooked they should be soft.
  5. Mix in the onion mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you like a very smooth-textured soup, whizz with a hand-held blender or in a food processor.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh coriander. If the soup is too thick, simply add more water and adjust the seasoning (it should be the consistency of double cream).
  7. Ladle into bowls and drizzle the argan/olive oil mix on top.

With thanks to Sam and Sam Clark of Moro Restaurant. This recipe can be found in their second cookbook Casa Moro:

‘Of the great choice of street food to eat in Morocco, two soups are almost always on offer. The first is the famous harira, of which we have a summer version on page 63, and the other is bessara. It is made from either split green peas or dried shelled fava (broad) beans and flavoured delicately with cumin, and both versions are magical considering their simplicity. Fava beans are available from Middle Eastern shops, especially Lebanese or Turkish shops, and the split green peas from supermarkets and Moroccan shops. We like to finish this soup with a drizzle of argan oil (made from the nuts of the argan tree, which is indigenous to Morocco) to give it a more complex, nutty flavour.’


Photo © Christine Benlafquih