Slow Cooker Vegan White Bean Stew

Before we indulged in our decadent dessert on Sunday night, we enjoyed a very healthy vegan white bean stew that I made in my slow cooker. Slow cooking is such a great way for me to save time (and money) and still make healthy meals for my family. I’m a big fan of making a big pot of soup on the weekend that will serve as my lunches for the coming week.

We’ve cut down on meat and poultry over the last two or three years, and I’m ready to branch out from all the beans I cook. (I’m sure I will still make a pot once a week because we really do love them.) So watch for more slow cooker recipes to come as I get creative with it. My mind is swirling with all sort of ideas for healthy meals I want to try to convert to using my slow cooker.

In the meantime, Kalyn’s Slow Cooker From Scratch is a great repository of fantastic slow cooker recipes.  (I can’t wait to make her Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Coconut Milk.)  I know this is going to be fun!

This stew is really flavorful.  I used a variation on my Slow Cooker Black Beans to make the white beans.  I’m telling you–add aromatics when you cook dry beans it they will have so much more flavor.  It’s impossible to go wrong when you start with flavorful beans as a base for a soup or stew.  For this I started with diced carrots, celery, onions, fresh garlic and dried herbs.  I used larger white beans so they took a little longer to cook than black beans or smaller white navy beans.  Keep that in mind if you use a different kind of bean.  Another big flavor boost comes from the canned tomatoes.  I used my favorite Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes.

Update 09/02/14 – NOTE: The recipe does call for 2 Tablespoon of salt. I use a ratio of 1 Tablespoon per pound of dry beans. It sounds like a lot of salt, but by the time the beans absorb some and the rest is in the cooking liquid, and the vegetables are added in, it’s about right. You can start with less – 1 Tablespoon – and add more at the end.

Update 01/21/15 – This recipe is perfect for a 6-quart slow cooker. If you have a smaller one, halve the ingredients.

4.0 from 3 reviews
Slow Cooker Vegan White Bean Stew
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 servings
Quick and easy vegan white bean stew made in a slow cooker.
  • 2 lbs. white beans
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. each: dried rosemary, thyme, oregano
  • 10-12 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt (according to taste, can start with 1 Tablespoon and add more at end if needed)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted)
  • 5-6 cups (or more) roughly chopped leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale)
  • Rice, polenta, or bread for serving
  1. Sort through and rinse beans several times in cool water. Add to the slow cooker along with the diced carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaf and dried herbs. Add the water. (Use less for a thicker stew, more for more of a soup.) Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or low for 6 hours. Remove lid from slow cooker and add the salt and pepper, and diced tomatoes. Let cook for another 1-1½ hours, or until beans are very soft. (If they are already soft after the initial cooking time, different kinds of beans may vary in cooking time, then add the tomatoes and greens and serve immediately.) Before serving, stir in the chopped greens.
  2. Serve over hot cooked rice, polenta, or with bread.
  3. Makes a lot--enough for at least 10-12 servings. Freeze half for later or invite friends over.

We like beans with rice almost always, but I’ve also served similar stews served over polenta.  But there is still something comforting about spooning up a big ladle full of flavorful stew chock full of healthy veggies and eating it with rice.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Other tasty recipes using white beans:
Heirloom Verdina Bean Salad
White Beans with Carrot and Radish Top Gremolata and Pan-Roasted Veggies
Quick Roasted Chicken and White Beans
Provencal Winter Squash with White Beans
Mushroom White Bean Tostada from Dine and Dish
White Bean Dip from David Lebovitz
Farro and Kale Salad with White Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from The Perfect Pantry
Vegetable Soup with Pesto Gruyere Toasts from me for Petit Elefant
Creamy White Bean and Kale Risotto-Style Stew from Food Nouveau

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42 Responses to “Slow Cooker Vegan White Bean Stew”

  1. mountain mama cooks February 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    This looks delicious, Lindsey! I’m always looking for healthy slow cooker recipes!

  2. Kalyn Denny February 14, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    This looks delicious, and thanks for the shout-out for Slow Cooker from Scratch!

  3. Anonymous April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Do you think it would work well to cut the recipe in half?

  4. Katie May 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Yum this was so good! I made it today. I made only half the recipe and it took about 5 hours on low to cook.

  5. Lindsey Johnson May 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I’m so glad you liked it Katie!

  6. Laura January 3, 2014 at 4:30 am #

    do you soak the beans overnight first?

  7. Lindsey Johnson January 3, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Hi Laura!

    No need to soak the beans first. I have found it doesn’t make much of a difference in the cooking time, so I stopped doing it. Feel free to do it if that’s your preference. It certainly won’t alter the recipe other than the beans may cook a tiny bit faster.

    • Hazel November 22, 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Lindsey
      In the uk we don’t have anything called ‘white beans’
      Are they the same as haricot beans? Could I use canned beans instead?


      • Lindsey Johnson November 22, 2014 at 11:32 am #

        Hi Hazel! Yes, they are the same as haricot beans. Canned would work fine, just be sure to reduce the water by quite a lot since the beans won’t be soaking up all the liquid. (You probably already knew that!)

  8. samantha May 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    this was wonderful! it made SO MUCH which will be nice this week as easy meals to take to work. thanks for the recipe!

  9. Sam May 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Lindsey! This looks SO delicious. I can’t wait to make it! I’m wondering how many ounces the “large” can of diced tomatoes that you used was. Thank you!!

    • Lindsey Johnson May 13, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      Hi Sam! A large can is 28 ounces, or about 3 cups. Let me know how you like it!

  10. Danna Vitt September 2, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    Made this stew last night and it was a huge hit with my family. Used kale as the greens in my inaugural attempt at this recipe and it was delicious. And it made enough that I have a lot left over for this week. One question: is 2 Tablespoons of salt correct? Just want to make sure. Thank you for this recipe, it will become a staple.

    • Lindsey Johnson September 2, 2014 at 8:28 am #

      Hi Danna! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it really is 2 Tablespoons of salt. One tablespoon per 1 pound of dry beans is the ratio I use whenever I cook beans in the slow cooker. If that was too salty for your taste, you can definitely use less. I’ll go back up into the recipe and add a note. :)

      • Danna Vitt September 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

        Thanks for your suggestion about the salt, Lindsey. This recipe is so delicious. In the last 3 weeks I’ve made it twice with kale and once with spinach. The love the aroma that fills the house during the last two hours of cooking. This stew is 5+ stars!

        • Lindsey Johnson September 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

          Hi Danna! Oh, that makes me so, so happy! I’m ready to make a big batch this week to put in the freezer for quick lunches. I really appreciate you coming back to tell me! xo

  11. Tiffany Balk December 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Hi! I am going to make this recipe this coming week. If I wanted to make it a little heartier, would it be an okay idea to add a bunch of cut-up small red potatoes to this mix? If so, how many do you think I could/should add? Would there be enough room for the addition of potatoes? Or would I have to reduce the amounts of other ingredients? I have a 4 quart slow cooker. :) Thanks!!

    • Lindsey Johnson December 15, 2014 at 5:11 am #

      Hi Tiffany! I think adding potatoes would be great. The slow cooker I use is a 6 quart, so I’m thinking you would probably want to use 1 lb. of beans and 5-6 cups water. Red potatoes hold up a bit better during cooking, but I’m afraid after the long cooking time, they might turn to mush. So, probably add those about an hour before the end of cooking time for HIGH and 2-3 hours for LOW. Or you could cook them separately and add at the end. OR you could try adding them at the beginning and see how it goes. :) You could probably add .5 to 1 lb. of potatoes. But this is all just kind of a guess because I haven’t done that before. I just would make sure that you leave 1/3 of the room at the top in your slow cooker for the expansion of the beans as they cook. Let me know how it goes!

      • Tiffany Balk December 15, 2014 at 7:25 am #

        Thank you for your reply! All of that is very helpful. If I may ask, what brand/model crock-pot do you use? I have been considering upgrading to a larger size, and am curious as to what you use. Shopping around, I have had trouble deciding for various reasons. Thanks!

      • Heather January 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

        I wish I had read this comment sooner! I have a 4-quart and had no room left to add the tomatoes or greens so I had to switch to a large pot on the stove at that step. Still tastes delicious!! I might just add in the recipe that you will need a 6-quart crockpot. :)

  12. Tiffany Balk December 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    I ended up boiling the red-skinned potatoes (a bag of them, quartered) separately, and then after draining the potatoes, I returned them to their large pot, and poured the finished stew from the crockpot, over the top of the potatoes in the pot. Then I added the chopped spinach, mixed it all up, and served it right out of the pot, with cornbread muffins (made with almond milk) on the side! I also added chili powder to taste to the crockpot, along with the other herbs/spices. This turned out great! It made a ton at the onset, but by adding the red skinned potatoes, I was able to stretch it even farther! Thanks again for this great recipe. It was a hit, and I’ll make it again and again. I just need to get a 6-7 qt. crockpot. I pushed mine to the brink today and then some, and that was even after reducing the water in the recipe to only 9 cups! lol :) It came out thick and hearty though, with a great sauce and texture.

  13. Lauren February 2, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    This may sound stupid, but do I saute the greens first or just put them in raw?

    • Lindsey Johnson February 2, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Not stupid at all, Lauren! I don’t sauté first because the heat of the stew will wilt the greens nicely. If you find that kale or chard are tough rather than tender, you might want to sauté them first. But you don’t really need to. Especially not for the spinach – I initially used to use spinach the most and if it were to be sautéed first, I think it would become gummy. Great question! :)

  14. Laura February 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    This looks delish! I am going to try it next week and am wondering, do you think it’ll still turn out if i put the tomatoes in at the beginning? I would be leaving this to cook while at work, so putting them in an hr before the end isn’t an option.

    • Lindsey Johnson February 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Hi Laura! That’s a great question. I think you can definitely add it in the beginning, you may want to add a little less water if the slow cooker is looking too full. The only adverse effect would be that the beans may stay a little firmer than if they were cooked without the tomatoes. The acid and salt can sometimes prevent them from cooking softer. But after the long cooking time, it may not matter too much anyway. Let me know how it goes!

  15. User02757 February 16, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    I tried this recipe and it wasn’t up to my taste. I halved the recipe and it was still too much for my 6-quart slow cooker. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I used the full amount listed. Overall, I’m glad I tried it, but do not plan on making it again.

    • Lindsey Johnson February 17, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m really curious why it didn’t work out for you in the 6-quart slow cooker. We make it all the time without any trouble at all. Sorry it wasn’t to your liking!

  16. Rebecca February 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Curious – do you use dried or canned beans? I plan on making this soon, but two pounds of dried beans seems like a lot of beans.

    • Lindsey Johnson February 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

      Hi Rebecca, I use dried beans. And 2 pounds is a lot, but this recipe makes A TON of stew. You can totally half the recipe for a smaller amount. I like making the full amount because we like eating it for a week between the five of us. :)

  17. Renee September 20, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    Do you know if you could sub black eyed peas for the white beans? Thanks!

    • Lindsey Johnson September 24, 2015 at 8:58 am #

      I don’t see why not! I think that would be wonderful.

  18. sandy September 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    This would be a great cook once eat twice recipe. I’d save half, add more chopped vegetables and cover with mashed cauliflower then bake to make bean shepherd

  19. Ginger September 21, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I help feed a less fortunate group of people, usually 75 to 100. So, I’m going to TRY to incorporate it into a large roaster cooker and make some hearty stew for the group! I always need new ideas.

  20. Katia Clark September 21, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    Made this for our 15 yr old recently turned vegetarian daughter and it was a huge hit. Super yummy. I was concerned about it fitting in the crock pot (we used 10 c of water) but once it cooked it wasn’t a problem. So yummy! Thank you, we’ll make this again.

  21. Jen September 22, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    This was incredible! I was stunned, since it was so simple. I never bothered with the tomatoes because it was already so good, so I saved them for another time. The only change I made, was I added about a ½ tsp of curry because I love it, and add it to nearly everything.

    My husband said this tasted like a party of flavour on his tongue.

    Thank you so much for what is now a new staple for us.

  22. Bethany Dorn September 29, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Do you think you could freeze before cooking?

    • Lindsey Johnson September 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

      I’ve never frozen uncooked beans before. However, if you wanted to freeze all of the other ingredients, sans beans, I think it would work out fine. The cooked stew does freeze very well though.

  23. Hannah October 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Hi, I am curious to try this but had a quick question – is there a way I could cook this on the low setting instead of the high so I can put it up before work and have it on all day? I’m new to my crock pot so I’m not sure if some kind of conversion exists between high and low settings.


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