Fassoulia (pronounced FA-SOOL-YA) is made with large lima beans (also known as butter beans) and lamb stewed in sautéed onions and crushed tomatoes. This is a recipe I ate frequently as a child. It's what I think of when I think of comfort food.
This dish is incredibly simple and satisfying. The portion size for this recipe is rather large, making it suitable for a large family or a meal prep recipe.
Over the years, I've made this recipe with all types of cuts of lamb and beef. My favorite meat to use is lamb on the bone, cut into large chunks.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Dried Lima Beans: I recommend using large dried lima beans for this recipe because they make this stew really thick and hearty. If you can only find small lima beans, those will work too. I have never made this recipe with canned lima beans, so I don't recommend using the canned stuff. Butter beans are the same thing as lima beans, so dried butter beans are acceptable as well.
- Lamb: Any cut of lamb will work for this recipe. I recommend cutting the lamb into large chunks, so it will cook easily. If lamb is unavailable, beef is a great substitute. Also, the amount of lamb or beef can be adjusted to your dietary preference.
- Onions: I use white onions, brown onions, or sweet onions for this recipe. I chop the onions into small pieces. Since onion size varies dramatically, I recommend measuring the chopped onions.
- Canned Tomatoes: Any type of canned crushed tomato is suitable.
- Ground Allspice: Ground allspice is important for this dish. It's easy to find in the spice section of any grocery store. If you don't have any allspice, you can add half the amount of cinnamon.
- Olive Oil: Any type of good quality olive oil is suitable for this recipe. Butter or ghee can be substituted if needed.
- Salt and pepper:
- Chopped cilantro (optional): In the Northern part of Lebanon, chopped cilantro is added to this stew. I really like the chopped cilantro, so I'd recommend using it.
You will also need:
- Very large stovetop pot
- Nonstick skillet
- Chefs knife and cutting board
- Can opener
- Larger bowl to soak the beans
Tips and Tricks
- Soak the lima beans (butter beans) the night before. Since we are using dried butter beans for this recipe, we need to soak the beans ahead of time. I recommend doing this the night before. However, if you are short on time, you can soak the beans for a minimum of 3 hours.
- Add enough water when soaking the butter beans. I add about 3 inches (7.5 cm) of water above the dried butter beans. They will really expand while soaking. Rinse the water and drain prior to making the recipe.
- Caramelize the lamb in a skillet. Add olive oil to the skillet and caramelize all sides of the lamb.
- Sautee the onions in the same skillet as the lamb. Add the chopped onions directly to the same skillet used for caramelizing the lamb. This gets all of the lamb flavor infused into the onions.
- Use allspice. This spice makes a large part of the flavor. If you have never cooked with allspice, now is the time! If you don't have any allspice on hand, then substitute half the amount of ground cinnamon.
- Keep an eye on the beans. Make sure the beans are not burning on the bottom of the pot while cooking this recipe. I stir the pot about every 15 minutes to make sure there is adequate liquid.
Butter Beans vs. Lima Beans
Butter beans are large lima beans. Lima beans come in a few different sizes.
Two Alternative Ways to Cook This Stew
I normally cook this large lima beans stew on the stovetop, however, there are a few other options for making this recipe quick and easy.
How To Cook Lima Beans In A CrockPot
One of the hacks to this recipe is stewing the meat, beans, crushed tomatoes, and sautéed onions in a crockpot. This recipe makes a massive quantity, so make sure the crockpot you have is large enough. You might need to cut this recipe in half if using a small crockpot.
- Chop the onions.
- In a large nonstick skillet, add the olive oil. Caramelize the meat on all sides. Set the meat aside.
- Add the chopped onions to the same pan. Sautee the onions until they are a light brown color.
- Add the water, beans, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, allspice, caramelized meat, and sautéed onions to the crock pot.
- Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Serve with rice.
How To Make Butter Beans Stew In An Instant Pot
If you are short on time, an instant pot can shave off almost an hour of cook time. To make this recipe in an instant pot, follow the same instructions as the crockpot however adjust the cook time for the instant pot. I recommend cooking this butter beans stew for 45 minutes to 1 hour on high in the instant pot.