Lebanese Butter Bean Stew (Fasolia Recipe)

5 from 12 votes
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How to make Fasolia, a traditional Lebanese butter bean stew made with beef/lamb (fasolia bi lahme) or as a vegan/vegetarian butter bean stew. This tomato-based Lebanese bean stew is hearty and wholesome, perfect for serving with rice, salad, and optionally some bread for mopping up all the juices!

A pot with butter bean stew

You may or may not know this already if you follow my Instagram, but I’m currently in the middle of a very exciting project involving tons of Lebanese recipes! So far, I’ve already posted two other Lebanese stew recipes including bamia (okra stew) and bazella (carrot and pea stew). To say I’m excited is an understatement; I mean, no one has to pull my arm to share more of my favorite recipes from growing up. Like batata harra, Lebanese lentil soup, spinach fatayer, Fattoush salad, and now this Lebanese butter bean stew (Fasolia w riz).

And if you like stew recipes, why not try this Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe?

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What is Fasolia?

While “fasolia” is the Arabic word for “bean” (also spelled fasolya, fasoulia, and fasoolia), it is also the name of this very popular Lebanese bean stew. Lebanese fasolia is a hearty butter bean stew made with a tomato-based sauce and beef or lamb, then served over rice (like vermicelli rice). Even better, this simple white bean stew is hearty enough that you don’t even need the meat for a truly delicious dish.

While the traditional version does contain meat (fasolia bi lahme), usually beef or lamb, the star of the show is the beans. It’s usually just a handful or two of meat used in the recipe. This is why it can easily be adapted to a delicious vegan white bean stew, too! Either way, this fasolia recipe is packed with protein, is inexpensive to make, and is freezer-friendly!

A serving of butter bean stew and rice

There are versions of Fasolia across several countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and even Greece. However, this is the Lebanese version that my mother made for me growing up, made using just a super simple combination of garlic, cilantro, and ground coriander seeds as the primary “aromatics.”

Once prepared, enjoy the fasolia immediately or store it for later (in the fridge or freezer). If anything, this Lebanese bean stew tastes even better the second day after all the flavors have had time to marinate and develop! For now, let’s jump right into the Lebanese fasolia recipe!

For more Lebanese recipe inspiration, you may also like Lebanese garlic sauce (toum), herby labneh dip, za’atar manakish, and a traditional falafel sandwich!

The Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: you can use fresh tomatoes, carton tomato juice/passata, or even tinned crushed tomatoes. You’ll also need tomato paste (I use homemade).  
  • Beans: I used butter beans for this fasolia recipe. However, you could use other white beans. You can use either tinned or dry beans for this recipe. Check FAQs for more.

Top Tip: I like to soak, cook, and freeze big batches of dried beans in advance. That way, you can just defrost them overnight before making the white bean stew.

  • Beef: you’ll need cooked beef shank with beef stock for the meaty version (traditional) of this fasolia recipe. You can also use lamb, though too. Keep reading for the vegetarian/vegan option.
  • Garlic: adjust the amount to personal taste.
  • Olive oil: or another neutral cooking oil – like avocado oil – but olive oil works best for flavor and mouthfeel.
  • Spices: you’ll need ground coriander seeds and salt and pepper.
  • Lemon juice: use fresh lemon for the best flavor!
  • Cilantro: you can use fresh or frozen cilantro (it doesn’t matter that it wilts upon thawing, as it’s added to the stew anyway).
Ingredients for butter bean stew

Once cooked, serve the Lebanese stew with your choice of side. I like to serve it with vermicelli rice.

Optional Add-ins and Variations

  • Vegan/Vegetarian butter bean stew: to make a vegan butter bean stew, you can substitute the beef stock with vegetable stock and add an onion (to sauté at the same time as the garlic). To replace the beef, you could use vegan beef/chicken pieces, or tofu beef crumble, though it works without any meat alternative, too.
  • Extra vegetables: particularly when making a vegetarian/vegan white bean stew, you may want to add more vegetables for a heartier stew. I recommend potatoes or carrots.
  • Cumin: While not traditional, a little cumin added to the Lebanese fasolia can help to enhance the flavor, especially when made without meat.
  • Cinnamon: this pairs particularly well when making lamb bean stew. Add enough to taste (I recommend ½ tsp to begin).
  • Lebanese 7 spice: I recommend adding around 1 Tbsp if using. For some, this is a must-add. However, it wasn’t something my family used the majority of time.
  • Chili: if you want to create a spicy white bean stew, you could add 1 finely chopped de-seeded red chili (adjust the amount of spice to preference). Alternatively, you could use chili/cayenne powder.

How to Make Fasolia? (Lebanese bean stew)

Step 1: The Pre-prep

If you’re using dried beans, first make sure to rinse and then leave them to soak overnight (at least 8hrs).

Then, on the day of making the stew, you’ll first need to prepare the beef (if using). You could also cook the vermicelli rice in advance or cook it while preparing the butter bean stew.

Step 2: Prepare the Beans

Tinned beans: drain and rinse the beans well, then bring the beans to a boil with 4 cups of water in a deep pot over medium heat. Remove the white foam from the top of the beans, then add ½ tsp salt and one bay leaf. Then cover the beans loosely with a lid (to stop the beans from overflowing). Simmer for 10 minutes. Then drain and rinse once more before setting aside.

Technically, the dried beans don’t need to pre-cook before being added to the main pan. I just do so for extra tender results and a little extra flavor. Alternatively, you can add the beans to the pan before adding the tomatoes to the pan and add the bay leaf and salt to the pan.

A bowl with butter beans

Dry beans: after soaking them overnight, rinse the beans well, then add them to a deep saucepan with 6 cups of water. You can then follow the method above. However, you’ll need to simmer the beans for between 20-30 minutes instead.

Step 3: Prepare the Remaining Ingredients

First, separate the cilantro leaves from the stems and finely chop the stems. Then, store the leaves back in the fridge to keep them “fresh” (we’ll be using them at the end).

Then, slice the garlic and, if you’re using fresh tomatoes, chop roughly and add them to a blender to process into a thick “juice.”

Step 4: Cook the Aromatics

In a large, deep pot (or Dutch oven), heat the oil. Then add the chopped garlic and sauté for just 30-40 seconds over medium heat.

Next, add the tomato paste and mix in before adding the crushed coriander seeds. Stir once more, then sauté for two minutes.

Add the chopped cilantro stems and stir before adding the tomato juice. Mix once more, then allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. During this time, it should reduce and thicken slightly.

Steps for preparing butter bean stew

Step 5: Add the Beans

Add the cooked beef, beef stock, and beans to the pot. Then mix well, reduce the heat to low, and allow it to simmer for a further 10 minutes.

For the vegetarian butter bean stew, add vegetable stock. You may also want to introduce extra fats with the addition of an additional tablespoon of olive oil. This will create a silky-smooth fasolia with a better mouthfeel.

Next, add the salt and pepper (to taste), stir, and cook for two minutes before adding the lemon juice and removing the fasolia from the heat.

Finally, add the cilantro leaves to the butter bean stew and gently fold them into the stew. Then serve it up along the sides of your choice.

Steps for cooking butter bean stew

How to Serve?

Aside from enjoying this Lebanese fasolia with rice (I used vermicelli rice, you could also serve with brown rice or quinoa), you can enjoy the stew with a simple leafy salad or flatbread like this pita bread or Ramadan pide. You could also enjoy it topped with some pickles – like these pickled turnips.

Alternatively, substitute the rice entirely and enjoy this white bean stew over mashed potato or a baked potato. You could even enjoy the white bean stew with pasta (definitely not traditional, but delicious). I recommend pairing it with homemade pasta like this egg pasta, vegan pasta, or GF chickpea pasta.

How to Store?

Store: allow the fasolia to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freeze: make sure to store the bean stew in an airtight container/s for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat: you can reheat the fasolia on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated throughout.

Butter bean stew in a pot and in a dish

Recipe Tips and FAQs

  • If using canned beans: you may need to slightly reduce the amount of salt in the stew as most canned beans contain sodium. However, you can also find low-sodium beans.
  • To cook the beef with the dish: rather than preparing the meat in advance, you could also try a version of cooking it in the pot. First, brown the meat (use diced beef or lamb) with garlic (4-6 minutes). Once browned but not fully cooked, then you can continue with the recipe. When adding the meat at this point, it will naturally combine with the tomato and liquid (you could use water in place of beef stock) to create a stock. However, you could also still use beef stock for extra flavor.
  • Swapping out the tomatoes: one of the most versatile parts of this fasolia recipe is the tomatoes. You can use fresh tomatoes (blended), passata, or crushed tomatoes (just make sure to use the same ml amount). During summer, I always try to use fresh tomatoes. Then through winter, I’ll use tins/cartons.
  • Can you use other beans? Yes, you could also use red kidney beans. However, I prefer the flavor/texture of white beans (and butter beans in particular). Technically, this dish would also work with fresh or frozen green beans. However, I’ve already shared a different green bean stew recipe.
  • Use a heavybottomed pan: or Dutch Oven. These distribute heat more evenly. That way, you’re less likely to get “hot spots” and burn the stew while simmering.

More Bean/Legume Recipes

If you try this Lebanese fasolia recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Lebanese Butter Bean Stew (Fasolia Recipe | + Vegan Version)

5 from 12 votes
By: Samira
How to make Fasolia, a traditional Lebanese butter bean stew made with beef/lamb (fasolia bi lahme) or as a vegan/vegetarian butter bean stew. This tomato-based Lebanese bean stew is hearty and wholesome, perfect for serving with rice, salad, and optionally some bread for mopping up all the juices.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 
 

  • 1.65 lb white beans fresh or soaked overnight; or 0.66 lb/300 g dry
  • 1.65 lb cooked beef shank or lamb pieces; check the notes for a meat-free version!
  • 3 cups beef stock or vegetable stock if making vegan bean stew
  • 4.35 oz cilantro
  • 4.5 cups tomato juice or passata; tinned crushed tomatoes would also work
  • 2.5 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice fresh is best
  • 6 garlic cloves big
  • 4.5 Tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

Step 1: The Pre-prep

  • If you're using dried beans, first make sure to rinse and then leave them to soak overnight (at least 8hrs).
    Then, on the day of making the stew, you'll first need to prepare the beef (if using). You could also cook the vermicelli rice in advance or cook it while preparing the butter bean stew.

Step 2: Prepare the Beans

  • Tinned beans: drain and rinse the beans well, then bring the beans to a boil with 4 cups of water in a deep pot over medium heat. Remove the white foam from the top of the beans, then add ½ tsp salt and one bay leaf. Then cover the beans loosely with a lid (to stop the beans from overflowing). Simmer for 10 minutes. Then drain and rinse once more before setting aside.
    Technically, the tinned beans don't need to pre-cook before being added to the main pan. I just do so for extra tender results and a little extra flavor. Alternatively, you can add the beans to the pan before adding the tomatoes to the pan and add the bay leaf and salt to the pan.
    Dry beans: after soaking them overnight, rinse the beans well, then add them to a deep saucepan with 6 cups of water. You can then follow the method above. However, you'll need to simmer the beans for between 20-30 minutes instead.

Step 3: Prepare the Remaining Ingredients

  • Separate the cilantro leaves from the stems and finely chop the stems. Then, store the leaves back in the fridge to keep them "fresh" (we'll be using them at the end).
  • Slice the garlic and, if you're using fresh tomatoes, chop roughly and add them to a blender to process into a thick "juice."

Step 4: Cook the Aromatics

  • In a large, deep pot (or Dutch oven), heat the oil. Then add the chopped garlic and sauté for just 30-40 seconds over medium heat.
  • Add the tomato paste and mix in before adding the crushed coriander seeds. Stir once more, then sauté for two minutes.
  • Add the chopped cilantro stems and stir before adding the tomato juice. Mix once more, then allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. During this time, it should reduce and thicken slightly.

Step 5: Add the Beans

  • Add the cooked beef, beef stock, and beans to the pot. Then mix well, reduce the heat to low, and allow it to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
    For the vegetarian butter bean stew, add vegetable stock. You may also want to introduce extra fats with the addition of an additional tablespoon of olive oil. This will create a silky-smooth fasolia with a better mouthfeel.
  • Add the salt and pepper (to taste), stir, and cook for two minutes before adding the lemon juice and removing the fasolia from the heat.
  • Finally, add the cilantro leaves and gently fold them into the stew. Then serve it up along the sides of your choice.

How to Store?

  • Store: allow the fasolia to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
    Freeze: make sure to store the bean stew in an airtight container/s for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
    Reheat: you can reheat the fasolia on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated throughout.

Notes

  • If using canned beans: you may need to slightly reduce the amount of salt in the stew – as most canned beans contain sodium. However, you can also find low-sodium beans.
  • To cook the beef with the dish: rather than preparing the meat in advance, you could also try a version of cooking it in the pot. First, brown the meat (use diced beef or lamb) with garlic (4-6 minutes). Once browned but not fully cooked, then you can continue with the recipe. When adding the meat at this point, it will naturally combine with the tomato and liquid (you could use water in place of beef stock) to create a stock. However, you could also still use beef stock for extra flavor.
  • Swapping out the tomatoes: one of the most versatile parts of this fasolia recipe is the tomatoes. You can use fresh tomatoes (blended), passata, or crushed tomatoes (just make sure to use the same ml amount). During summer, I always try to use fresh tomatoes. Then through winter, I’ll use tins/cartons.
  • Can you use other beans? Yes, you could also use red kidney beans. However, I prefer the flavor/texture of white beans (and butter beans in particular). Technically, this dish would also work with fresh or frozen green beans (However, I’ve already shared a green bean stew recipe).
  • Use a heavybottomed pan: or Dutch Oven- These distribute heat more evenly. That way, you’re less likely to get “hot spots” and burn the stew while simmering.
Optional add-ins and variations:
  • Vegan/Vegetarian butter bean stew: to make a vegan butter bean stew, you can substitute the beef stock with vegetable stock and add an onion (to sauté at the same time as the garlic). To replace the beef, you could use vegan beef/chicken pieces, though it works without any meat alternative, too.
  • Extra vegetables: particularly when making a vegetarian/vegan white bean stew, you may want to add more vegetables for a heartier stew. I recommend potatoes or carrots.
  • Cumin: while not traditional, a little cumin added can help to enhance the flavor, especially when made without meat.
  • Cinnamon: this pairs particularly well when making lamb bean stew. Add enough to taste (I recommend ½ tsp to begin).
  • Lebanese 7 spice: I recommend adding around 1 Tbsp if using. For some, this is a must-add. However, it wasn’t something my family used the majority of the time.
  • Chili: if you want to create a spicy white bean stew, you could add 1 finely chopped de-seeded red chili (adjust the amount to spice preference). Alternatively, you could use chili/cayenne powder.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving suggestions!
Course: Main
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 1149mg, Potassium: 1840mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 2312IU, Vitamin C: 47mg, Calcium: 183mg, Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 12 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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