For example, I was disappointed that Moroccans are one of the only Sephardi groups who DON'T eat most kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach (Passover).
No rice, no corn, no garbanzo beans, no soy oil, and so on. However, they do eat certain kinds of fresh kitniyot like:
- Green beans
- Yellow beans
- String beans
- Fava beans
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, and called fulim (FOO-leem) in Hebrew, play a starring role in Moroccan Pesach meals.
(For example, Moroccan Pesach cholent includes fulim that have only been shelled once, which is exactly what you get when you buy a bag of frozen fulim in the freezer section in Israel.)
My initial reaction to the thought of eating boiled cabbage instead of chicken soup with lots of fluffy matzah balls was “Yuck!”
But upon tasting this traditional Moroccan soup of fulim and cabbage, my reaction immediately transformed into “YUM!”
I also fell in love with fulim.
So there's your warning.
This is an incredibly healthy soup, as you’ll soon see.
It’s also low-gluten (or possibly gluten-free?) and low-carb.
Feel free to make this during the year if your custom forbids you to eat fulim on Pesach.
My mother-in-law (who grew up in Tafilalt and moved to Meknes to marry and birth her first 3 children — including my husband) taught me how to make it.
The exact amounts depend on the size of your pot and your personal taste. We always use a huge pot for this because everyone loves it so much.
The time-consuming part is preparing the fulim. Initially, I thought it was impractical to shell mounds of fulim Erev Pesach. Who has time or energy for that? But believe me, it really is worth it. Originally, Moroccan women finished their Pesech cleaning in a timely fashion and then sat down together the morning of Erev Pesach to shell out all the fulim. (Remember, you had large homes and several guests and/or multi-generational families back in Morocco, so you had a bunch of sisters, grandmothers, mothers, and daughters available for copious social fulim-shelling.) My sons help me, but they don't have the same dedication and patience for it that my mother-in-law and I have.
So when I don’t have Moroccan females on hand, I start preparing the fulim the night before.
Or, more accurately, I TRY to prepare it the night before.
Note: Depending on your geographical location and what brand of cabbage you buy, you may need to rinse off each leaf and check for bugs. Ditto with the cilantro/coriander/kusbara.
- A head or two of white (i.e. light green) cabbage
- 1 generous handful of cilantro/coriander/kusbara
- 1.5 kilos/3 lbs. of fresh fulim pods, as plump as you can find—indicating that the beans inside are extremely plump and large. (You should be able to get them at any shuk in Eretz Yisrael at this time of year.)
Note #2: Also, sometimes it happens that you buy pods with massively swollen bumps that hint at gargantuan fulim inside only to discover tiny fulim. This usually doesn't happen, but you may run into a couple of deceptive pods like this. Forewarned is forearmed! Just remember that this, too, is for the best!
- Garlic cloves (as many as you like)
- A couple of chunks or slices of red meat (or more if you like)
- Your favorite Pesach oil (coconut is not recommended unless you like coconut-flavored cabbage)
- Turmeric (as much as you need to get your desired taste and color)
- Black or white pepper
- Using a sharp and large enough knife, slice the cabbage thinly.
- Toss all that cabbage in your pot.
- Fill the pot with water to cover and then turn on the high heat.
- When it will boils, turn the heat down to a merry simmer. (The cabbage needs to cook forever, so just start it cooking right away while you prepare everything else.)
- Peel the garlic and then do whatever you like to do with garlic (i.e. leave it whole, slice it, mince it, halve it, or whatever) and toss that into the pot with the cabbage.
- Mince the kusbara and toss that in.
- Add the oil (however much or little you want)
- Add the pieces of meat.
- Add the spices.
- Break open the pods and pop out the ful beans.
Now comes the patchky part.
- You need to peel this soft “shell” off of them, too.
Dig in your fingernail and just scrape or peel the soft shell off. Sometimes, you can even pop the fulim out of this second shell, depending.
The plumper and larger the fulim are, the easier this will be. (That’s why when you were shopping for fulim pods, you went after the plumpest looking ones.)
- Once you have all your fulim peeled twice, then you can add them to the soup.
- Let the soup simmer forever (2-3 hours or more?), periodically checking to make sure there is enough water so it won’t burn.
The cabbage should be pretty soft. Yeah, cabbage never seems to get so soft, but it should be nice and limp.
And there you have it: your very own authentic Moroccan Pesach Seder Soup.
- You don't need to add the ingredients in the order given. For example, nothing bad will happen if you add the meat before the garlic or kusbara, or if you add the spices before the veggies and meat.
- Add potatoes, either with or instead of the fulim. (In fact, if you can’t eat fulim on Pesach, just use this recipe with potatoes instead.)
- Use parsley or dill instead of kusbara.
- Go ahead and buy a bag of frozen fulim and use the fulim as is without shelling them a second time.
- Use a different kind of meat (meatballs, chicken, etc.)
- Omit the meat altogether to make a vegan soup.
- You can omit the oil.
- You don’t have to use such a large amount of fresh kusbara.
- You can use dried or powdered versions of the garlic and kusbara.
- I suppose you could use saffron in place of turmeric. (Maybe that was even in the original recipe way back when...)
- You don't need to start boiling the cabbage while you prepare everything else. You can also prepare everything first with the cabbage, then add the water and start cooking.
- You can prepare the fulim in advance, either partly (by shelling them out of their pods) or completely (shelling them out of their pods, then peeling off the skin).
- Fulim freeze nicely in both states of shelled-ness.
- If you don't manage to use all the fulim you bought, you can freeze them (shelled or shelled and peeled) for later or to add to your Pesach cholent.