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Maltese Soup (Kusksu)

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Today we are traveling to the Republic of Malta. Malta is a southern European island country comprising an archipelago of seven islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles south of the Italian island Sicily. The country covers just over 122 square miles, making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries.

Let me show you how to create this hearty and nutritious Maltese Soup (Kusksu) with this easy-to-follow recipe, perfect for a taste of Maltese cuisine at home

Maltese Soup {Kusksu} Food of the World Malta | cookingwithcurls.com

The capital of Malta is Valletta, which is also the smallest capital in the European Union. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.

Maltese cuisine shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well as influences of Spanish, Maghrebin (North African) and Provençal cuisines.

Maltese Soup {Kusksu} cookingwithcurls.com

Maltese Soup (Kusksu) is a traditional dish served in Malta, although it would be served during the spring when broad beans (fava beans) are in season. Being that I live in a corn field and not a major city, I could not find fava beans anywhere!

Malta’s cuisine is heavy in Italian/Mediterranean inspired recipes, so I decided to substitute cannellini beans (white kidney beans, northern beans). I honestly have no idea what a fava bean tastes like, but this soup is really delicious!

How to make Maltese Soup (Kusksu)

Start by heating the oil in a large pot/Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Diced onions and oil in a Dutch oven.

Stir in the garlic and tomato paste.

Tomato paste mixed with cooked onion in Dutch oven.

Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Chicken stock and bay leaves mixed with the onion mixture.

Add the carrot, potato, and beans.

Chopped carrots, potatoes, and beans added to the soup mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the couscous and simmer for an additional 15 minutes (20 minutes if using fava beans).

Couscous added into the boiling soup mixture.

Stir in the ricotta.

Ricotta cheese added to the soup mixture.

Heat until ricotta melts, 3 to 5 minutes and serve.

Maltese Soup {Kusksu} cookingwithcurls.com | #foodoftheworld #malta

This meal was quite a challenge!! I first chose a fish soup, but then realized that it required a WHOLE FISH! Ummm, NO! So I started searching through all different versions of Kusksu soups, and mostly found old world recipes that required a “handful” of kusksu (couscous), and a “spoon” of kunserva (tomato paste). So I have done my best to “translate” into an easy to follow recipe.

Maltese Soup {Kusksu} cookingwithcurls.com | #foodoftheworld

This soup would also be served with Gbejniet (Maltese cheeselets) and a poached egg. If I can’t find fava beans, I will never find that type of cheese….or anything similar! I am not a fan of poached eggs, so I decided to just skip that part all together! If you would like to add the poached eggs, add them with the vegetables and remove them before adding the couscous. Return them to the pot after adding the ricotta to reheat them.

Most of the photos that I have seen of this soup have a clear both, so I may have misinterpreted “some rikotta”. I made a guess and added a half-cup of ricotta, maybe rikotta in Malta is different than here in the states?

Recipe Update

Wow, did I translate this recipe incorrectly!! A big thank you to the readers from Malta that helped set me straight! I have not remade the recipe, I now live in the middle of the desert and will still not be able to find the correct ingredients, but I did make adjustments and suggestions in the new recipe card below. You can also find their suggestions in the comments below.

Like I said before, it is delicious none the less.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!
Tag @cookingwithcurls on Instagram & Facebook and leave a ⭐️⭐⭐⭐⭐ review below!


A bowl of beans soup with carrots and potatoes.

Maltese Soup {Kusksu}

This is my interpretation of a traditional Maltese Soup {Kusksu} using ingredients that are easily found here in the U.S.!
5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Malta
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 32 ounces chicken stock or homemade
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 russet potato pealed and chopped into small pieces – not traditional
  • 1 carrot pealed and chopped into small pieces – not traditional
  • 14 ounces fava beans substitute lima, edamame or peas for traditional – I used canned cannellini beans
  • 0.5 cup pearl couscous
  • .25 cup crumbled queso fresco or goats cheese I used ricotta which is definitely not traditional!
  • 1 egg


  • Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste.
  • Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and salt and pepper.
  • Add potato, carrot, and beans, stir and bring to a boil. Or skip for the traditional version. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in couscous and simmer for 15 minutes. (20 if using fava beans)
  • Add the crumbled cheese and crack an egg on top of the cheese. Cover, turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes.
    (Stir in the ricotta cheese and simmer until heated. How I made it, which is why mine looks different)
  • Serve garnished with chopped parsley.


Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 421mg | Potassium: 883mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2683IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 3mg

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  1. This soup was pretty nice actually. I was looking for a recipe to use World Market pearl couscous as it wasn’t suitable as a salad or pilaf and figured it would do well in a soup — It certainly did, and with fava beans. Thank you for this unique Maltese recipe!!

  2. Here in Malta we also use peas instead of broad beans if not available, but also edamame beans would be a food replacement more similar to broad beans. Your soup is not clear because you used rikotta instead of the Maltese cheeselets. Cheeselets (goat’s cheese) remain whole while rikotta breaks down. But it seems you’ve done well!

  3. Our Ricotta is more solidish you can buy slices (or chucks) from cheese counter at the supermarket. We don’t have our ricotta in tubs. It is not as creamy and spreadable as the ones in tubs and it has a more milky taste. 🙂

  4. The soup looks delicious, but there are so many deviations in the recipe from what traditional Kusksu is – I’m not sure it’s right to call it “Traditional Maltese Kusksu” anymore. Hehe!

    The big ingredients – broad beans, gbejniet, maltese pearl couscous, and egg – have almost all been subbed here. But, that being said, I highly doubt anyone would be able to find gbejniet outside of Malta, unless you make it yourself. SO, I use Queso Fresco in its place, as the cooked texture is very similar. And it’s hard to find broad beans (fava), so you can use lima instead (basically smaller broad beans).

    Potatoes, carrots, and ricotta should not be in there.

    The rest is cool – start with onion and tomato paste, then add your pastsa, beans, and water. Let water come to boil. Drop in pieces of cheese, then crack eggs on top. Make sure you do the cheese first so it doesn’t disrupt the egg. Cover, turn off heat, and let it sit there untouched for about 20 mins.
    Done. Super easy. No need for all the extra vegg – most Maltese don’t do that. They save that for Minestra.

  5. Hey, I stumbled upon your recipe a few years ago and keep coming back to it. I love it! Despite not being traditional, I too use the ricotta and it’s amazing. So thank you 🙂

  6. Looks great but we traditionaly use fresh goat cheeslets rather than ricotta or queso fresco, and for the best result, crack in an egg or two literally at the end when you are about to serve, these will poach and give a nice texture to your soup 🙂 enjoy!! I am making mine today

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