Lebanese Fasolia (White Bean Stew)

Fasolia is a Lebanese white bean stew, or yekhneh. Creamy white beans in a thick, savory tomato sauce make it a hearty and filling dish. It’s the perfect comfort food that everyone will love.

There are different versions of fasolia. I’m going to share with you my recipe for the classic Middle Eastern fasolia, made from dried beans and meat. I’m also going to show you some variations and tips, for example how to make fasolia with canned beans, without meat etc.

Fasolia white bean stew

What is Fasolia?

Fasolia is a hearty Middle Eastern stew that is made with white beans and meat (beef or lamb) in a thick tomato sauce. The dish is also called fasolia wa roz (fasolia with rice), as it’s commonly served with Lebanese white rice.

Fasolia is originally from Lebanon, but it’s very popular across the Middle East and even beyond. This white bean stew makes a very delicious, hearty comfort food.

Fasolia Ingredients

To make fasolia, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • White beans: White kidney beans, also known as cannellini beans, are the main ingredient of fasolia. Dried beans will yield the best results, canned beans are an alternative for when you’re short in time (more on this below).
  • Tomato paste: Tomato paste (tomato concentrate) makes the base for your sauce.
  • Meat: Most people will use beef or veal (boneless stewing meat). Lamb is a suitable alternative. The meat will add to the flavor of the dish, but shouldn’t overpower the beans. It’s cut into cubes, about 2 cm or 1 inch in size. You could even leave out the meat to make your fasolia vegetarian.
  • Onions: The basic ingredient to most Middle Eastern sauce bases.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice. It’s used to fry the onion, when creating the tomato base.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves.
  • Seasonings: Classic fasolia doesn’t contain a lot of seasonings. Some people will only add salt and pepper. I like to add bay leaves and cumin to enhance the flavor.
  • Lemon: You can either add freshly squeezed lemon to the stew, or serve lemon alongside.
  • Coriander: Finely chopped coriander (cilantro) or parsley is used for garnish.
  • Water

Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.

Fasolia recipe

How to Make Fasolia

Ready to make fasolia? Let’s get started!

Step 1: Soak the white beans

If you’re using dried beans, you’ll need to soak them beforehand (ideally overnight). Place the dried beans in a large bowl and fill it up with triple the amount of water. Soak overnight. The next day, drain the soaked beans in a colander. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients for fasolia.

Step 2: Prepare onion and garlic

Peel the onion and finely dice. Peel the garlic cloves and crush (or finely chop). Set aside.

Step 3: Cut the meat

Place the meat on a cutting board. Cut it into medium-sized cubes, about 2 cm or 1 inch in size.

Beef and veal are usually quite lean. If there’s a bit of fat, you shouldn’t remove it because it will add to the flavor of your stew. Lamb usually has more fat (white pieces). I personally like to cut off the large chunks. Don’t cut off all of it though.

Step 4: Sauté the spices

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Be sure to use enough oil (the bottom of the saucepan should be completely covered). When using too little oil, the meat might stick to the pan or burn.

Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves and the crushed garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds to release their aroma.

Step 5: Add onions, meat and spices

Add onions, meat and the powdered spices (cumin, salt and pepper) to the saucepan. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes. The meat should now have browned on the outside (it will not be fully cooked at this point).

Step 6: Add tomato paste

Add tomato paste to the saucepan. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and let sauté for another 1-2 minutes to allow the flavors to mix.

Step 7: Add beans and water

Transfer the drained white beans to the saucepan. Add about 1 liter (4 US cups) of hot water. Bring the water to a boil.

Step 8: Cook

Once the water is boiling, reduce the stove to low. Close the lid and simmer for about 60-75 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Step 9: Serve

While the fasolia is simmering, you can prepare your Arabic rice or any other dish you’d like to serve alongside. Garnish your fasolia with finely chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve warm with fresh lemon.

Fasolia Recipe
Fasolia: Lebanese White Bean Stew

Dried Beans vs. Canned Beans

Most legumes can be purchased either dried or canned. Each of them has their advantages and downsides.

Dried beans yield the best taste. They can be purchased in bulk which makes them much cheaper when compared to their canned counterparts. On the downside, they aren’t suitable for last-minute dishes. Dried white beans need to be soaked prior to use (at least 6-8 hours, ideally 12-14 hours). White beans need to be cooked for about 1 – 1 ¼ hours (in the tomato sauce, together with the meat). During the cooking process, both the beans and the meat will become tender and absorb the flavors, which results in the great taste of this dish.

Canned beans on the other hand are essentially pre-soaked and pre-boiled beans. You should cook them in the tomato sauce for about 10-15 minutes to allow the beans to absorb some of the flavors. Canned beans won’t produce the same flavor as dried beans, but they are a great alternative when you’d like to make fasolia spontaneously or forgot to soak your beans.

How to Serve Fasolia

Compared to other Middle Eastern dishes, fasolia is a rather simple dish. It’s commonly served on busy weekdays for the family. It’s not a dish that you’d prepare for gatherings or special occasions. Fasolia can be made year-round, though it’s the perfect comfort food on cold days. Serve it for lunch or dinner.

What to Serve with Fasolia

Fasolia is always served with Lebanese butter rice, that’s why it’s called fasolia wa roz in Arabic. Besides, you can add mezze or a salad to the menu. If aren’t in the mood to prepare side dishes, simply serve with onion, diced tomatoes, cucumbers or pickles.

Make Ahead & Storage

What’s great about Middle Eastern stews is that you can perfectly prepare them ahead of time. Arab mums often prepare a large saucepan of fasolia and serve it over several days.

Let cool completely, then store in the refrigerator and consume within 2-3 days. Warm up before serving.

Any Questions or Feedback?

If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.

Fasolia Recipe

Lebanese Fasolia

Kitty Ramasamy
Fasolia is a hearty stew consisting of white beans and meat with tomato base. It’s a popular Middle Eastern comfort food, commonly served with Lebanese butter rice.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 6 people
Calories 372 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 350 g (2 cups) dried white beans
  • 300 g (2/3 lb) boneless beef fillet or lamb, boneless stewing meat
  • 2 onions small, yellow
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 liter (4 cups) water see notes
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Lemon for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place the dried beans in a large bowl. Fill up with triple the amount of water. Soak overnight. The next day, drain the soaked beans in a colander. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  • Peel the onions and finely chop. Crush the garlic. Set aside.
  • Chop the meat into medium-size cubes (2 cm or 1 inch in size). Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is heated, add the bay leaves and the crushed garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds to release their flavors.
  • Add onions and chopped meat. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Ssauté over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste to the saucepan. Stir well to combine the tomato paste with the meat and onions.
  • Add the drained beans and hot water to the saucepan and stir well. Bring to the boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, reduce to low heat. Close the lid and let simmer for about about 60 minutes.
  • Remove from the stove. Serve with white rice or Arabic butter rice and garnish with chopped coriander or parsley. Serve warm with fresh lemon.

Notes

  • The amount of water is a personal preference. You can add more or less than indicated in the recipe card. The amount of water I add makes a nice sauce which is great when eating fasolia with rice.
  • You’ll achieve the best taste when using dried beans. These are not only more delicious, but also cheaper when compared to canned beans. Dried beans need to be soaked in water overnight.
  • Using canned beans? If you forgot to soak the beans, or want to prepare this dish last-minute, you can prepare it with canned beans. If using canned beans, sautée the meat a little longer, about 15 minutes, to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. Drain the canned beans and rinse them with cold water, before you add them to the saucepan. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes to let the flavors develop, without the beans getting too soft.
  • Dried white beans will double in size (and weight) when soaked. 350 g (2 US cups) dried beans (before soaking) will yield about 700 g (4 US cups) beans (after soaking). When using canned beans, you’ll need double the amount than what’s indicated for dried beans.
  • Vegetarian fasolia? Authentic Middle Eastern fasolia contains meat (usually beef or lamb), but you can make it vegetarian too. Use one more onion when making the vegetarian version. Sautée the onion in oil, together with the bay leaves, cumin, salt and pepper, then add the tomato paste followed by the beans and the water, as described in the recipe.
  • The nutrition facts are rough estimates and can vary according to the exact weight, brand and type of ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 372kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 26gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 132mgPotassium: 1392mgFiber: 10gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 170IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 173mgIron: 8mg

Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.

Keyword Fasolia, White Bean Stew
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