Loubia is a Moroccan dish, usually made vegetarian, consisting of stewed white beans (or cannellini beans) and flavoured with onions, garlic, tomato and a handful of warm middle eastern spices. This light but flavourful stew is scooped up with bread and enjoyed as a main meal. Using canned beans means this dish requires just 10 minutes of hands on time and its ready in 40 minutes!
What is Loubia?
Loubia is a North African dish made from stewed white beans, or cannellini beans. This particular recipe is for Moroccan style loubia, which is often served vegetarian. Beans are usually used in meat-free dishes since they are packed with protein and are much more economical.
An interesting fact about Middle Eastern and North African cuisine is that the terms "loubia" and "fasolia" are mixed up across the region. Both of these terms means "beans" in Arabic, but differ based on the type of beans in question.
For example, in Iraq, we make a very similar white bean stew with lamb, but we call it "fasolia yabsa", with "yabsa" meaning "dry". However, we use "loubia" to refer to long green string beans. These two terms are also used in this way across Lebanon and other levant countries.
But in Morocco, and most of North Africa, "loubia" are the dry white beans. I find the use of food and language across the middle east extremely fascinating!
Back to Loubia - this vegetarian stew is extremely flavourful, you won't be missing the meat. But you can add meat if you like - simply cook chicken, beef or veal in broth, then use the broth in the stew, along with the meat.
Canned vs Dry Cannellini Beans or White Beans
As with most authentic middle eastern dishes using beans, dry beans were used for centuries since canned beans did not exist! I do hold a firm belief that dry beans do taste slightly better than canned beans.
Why? Because the dry beans are uncooked, and as they slowly stew, they soak up all the flavour from the broth. They will also release more starch and thicken the stew beautifully. But they will need at least 1-2 hours of stewing to soften.
Therefore, I am also not opposed to using canned beans as a fantastic alternative, especially if wanting to get dinner on the table quickly. Canned beans cut the cooking time down to half. I used canned most often, because I think the flavour pay off is also great! So.. you decide.
Here is how to adjust this recipe if you'd like to use dry beans:
- Replace 2 cans of cannellini beans with 1 cup of dry beans.
- Cover the beans with 4 cups of water and soak for a minimum of 12 hours, up to 24 hours.
- Continue with the recipe, but allow the beans to stew for at least 1.5 to 2 hours until soft. Replenish water as needed.
Ingredient's You'll Need to Make this Recipe
- Cannellini beans or white beans (also sometimes called "white kidney beans"): 2 cans or 1 cup dry beans. If using dry beans, soak in 3 cups water for 12 hours (up to 24 hours). If using canned beans, drain and rinse.
- Onions and garlic; finely diced
- Fresh grated tomato; you can also replace with 1 cup of crushed tomatoes if you don't have any fresh ones. I cut the tomato in half and grate using a box grater, discarding the skin.
- Moroccan Spices: paprika, turmeric, ginger, cumin and cayenne.
- Parsley and Cilantro: if you're not a fan of one of them, just double the other one (I cannot stand cilantro!).
How To Make This Recipe Step by Step
The stew comes together in just 10 minutes of hands-on time. Start by heating up olive oil in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onions and soften for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and all the spices and toast them for a few more minutes.
Add the tomato paste and the grated tomatoes to the pot and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, the parsley and the cilantro.
TIP: You can great a tomato using a box grater. Simply cut the tomato in half, then grate using the largest holes. You'll be left with the tomato peel once its grated, which you can discard.
Stir all the ingredients together for a few minutes to combine.
Add the water, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the beans are tender. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
If you like, you can also use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water to add more flavour. I don't think it's a requirement; I make this stew with just water and its extremely flavourful.
Serving and Storage Suggestions
Most middle eastern stews are served over rice, but since rice is rarely consumed in Morocco, I suggest serving this stew with Moroccan bread (khubz) to get the true Moroccan experience. You can use any other bread as well, like pita bread of a crusty baguette.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and in the fridge for 4-5 days. This stew is also quite freezer friendly; simply scoop into freezer bags and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then heat on the stovetop.
Other Stew Recipes You Will Love
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Vegetarian Loubia (Moroccan White Bean Stew)
- 2 cans white kidney beans (2x 540 ml cans) drained and rinsed (see notes for dry beans substitution)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 large tomato grated
- 2 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt more per pereference
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups water hot (more as needed), or sub chicken broth
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- In a medium stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once heated for a few minutes, add in the diced onion and sauté until softened.
- Add in the crushed garlic along with the spices and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste along with the grated tomato. Cook and stir for a few minutes.
- Add the drained and rinsed white kidney beans along with the cilantro, parsley and the water.
- Stir and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 30 minutes. The loubia is ready once it has thickened slightly and the flavours have melded together.
- If using soaked dry cannellini beans, you will need to continue cooking for another hour, adding more water as needed to ensure a soupy consistency is maintained.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve with Moroccan bread or bread of your choice.
- To make this recipe using dry cannellini beans, simply soak 1 cup of beans for 12 hours and up to 24 hours in 3 cups of water. Follow the recipe as directed, but allow the stew to cook for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 1.5 hours depending on the beans, until they are soft.
- If you don't have fresh tomato, you can substitute canned crushed tomatoes instead of the grated tomato.
- Use chicken broth, or vegetarian broth instead of just water to add more flavour.