“There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers.” ~ Louis P. De Gouy
Soup and stews are the ultimate comfort food for me; I long for the shorter days, chilly mornings and long nights as we approach winter. I dream of big pots simmering on the stove filled with delicious, hearty flavours, as the aromas permeate the house.
This White Bean Stew recipe fits that bill perfectly. While I made this as a long, slow simmer stew using dried beans, it would be great using a crock pot, it can easily be made in a jiffy by using canned beans. It’s a win, win, win stew!
I was contemplating a white bean soup the other day and I thought I’d do one a bit differently than my normal white bean soup. As I pondered what I would add, it transformed into a hearty stew.
In this recipe I used a pound of dried beans; this is the equivalent of about four 15 ounce cans of beans. I soak my beans using a quick-soak method. If you don’t know what that is, this is how I do it:
- Wash the beans well.
- Place the beans in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Continue adding water until there is at least 4 inches of water above the level of the beans.
- Place the stockpot on the stove and bring to a full, rolling boil.
- Cover the pan, turn off the heat, allow to sit for one hour.
- Drain the beans in a colander and set aside to add to the soup or stew.
Of course, you can soak your dried beans overnight, too. I just never seem to think that far ahead. *wink*
I started with my basic recipe for white bean soup and used carrots, celery, onion and garlic softened in a titch of olive oil. I added to that some dried herbs in the form of Italian seasoning blend and a bay leaf.
For the liquid, I used a vegetable stock I’d made, but you could use water or any other stock you prefer. Once I added the beans, the ingredients simmered for several hours before I added anything else. I started with six cups of stock and added a bit more several times as the dried beans absorbed the liquid. I’m guessing that I probably used 8 cups of stock. This will vary with the beans, so start on the low side and add more as needed. I also wanted this to be thick and stew-like, so if you want yours soupier, just add more liquid.
This year I grew okra in Saucy’s Wee Kitchen Garden and it was prolific. The variety I grew, Emerald Okra, is an heirloom seed that grows a rib-less pod. This enables the okra to grow quite long without it becoming woody. This also means that I had long, long pods to slice and freeze for soups and stews. I was anxious to try some of the okra I had frozen, so it was a natural addition.
I had every intention of throwing in some mustard or collard greens, but when I went to my garden to harvest them, I found the rabbits had the same idea. Only they got there first. So, I think this would be fabulous with some fresh green of some sort thrown in…spinach, turnip, mustard or collard greens, or even kale. Next time.
Another ingredient I added was diced tomatoes with green chilies. There is a caveat about using the tomatoes, though. You never want to add tomatoes to a dried bean soup until the beans are completely tender, or the beans will not soften. Along this line, I have also found that you need to wait to salt the beans until then too. For that reason, if you’re using Cajun seasoning instead of Creole seasoning don’t add the cajun seasoning until you add the tomatoes, since that seasoning blend contains salt. If you’re using canned beans this won’t matter, since those beans are already cooked.
Over the course of the day, I “tasted” the stew…just to check for the tenderness of the beans, don’t you know…and I was drooling all day long. It was just wonderful and was the perfect dinner for a chilly night.
I hope you’ll try it.
- 1 pound dried white beans (I used navy beans, but great northern would be good too), washed and pre-soaked. Or, 4 - 15 ounce cans...not drained.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup thick sliced carrot
- 1 cup rough diced celery
- ½ cups rough diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 - 8 cups vegetable stock
- 1½ tablespoons dried Italian seasoning blend
- 2 bay leaves
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used Rotel brand - don't add until the beans are soft.)
- 1 teaspoon creole seasoning blend (you could use Cajun too but don't add until the beans are soft)
- In a large stockpot, soak the beans, either overnight or using the quick-soak method.
- Drain in a colander and set aside.
- Using the same stockpot, over medium heat, add the olive oil.
- Once the oil is warmed, add the carrots and celery.
- Cook for about 4 minutes.
- Add the onions and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add six cups of liquid, either stock or water.***
- Add the pre-soaked beans, Italian seasoning blend, bay leaf and Creole seasoning (if using Cajun seasoning wait to add until the beans are soft).
- Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the stockpot and simmer until the beans are softened (about 2-3 hours...more, if needed...every bean is different).
- Add stock or water, as needed, once the beans absorb the initial liquid.
- Once the beans are softened, add the okra, diced tomatoes with chilies (if you're using Cajun seasoning, this is when you will add it).
- Allow to simmer for another 20 minutes or so, until the okra is softened.
- Adjust any seasoning at this time, adding salt and more ground black pepper, to taste.
- Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.
- Serve hot in bowls.