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.
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.
Update 01/12/16 – I’ve updated the cooking time in the recipe directions to reflect different beans or slow cookers used. Please note that not all beans cook the same every single time. If the beans are old, they may never soften despite extra long cooking times. (There’s no good way to know if the beans are old or not, unfortunately. Try to buy them from somewhere with a high turnover rate of ingredients like dried beans.) Also, soaking the beans overnight or for several hours may or may not lessen cooking time. I’ve never personally found pre-soaking to be of much consequence, which is why I prefer using the slow cooker to the stovetop when cooking dried beans. I’ve tried both ways many times over many years and this way always works for me.
- 2 pounds white beans (see note below)
- 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
- 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 3-4 hours, or LOW for 8-10 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.
- Serve over hot cooked rice, polenta, or with bread.
- 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