Spicy White Bean Stew with Arugula

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Close-up image of white beans in a tomato broth with arugula and feta on top.

When the weather changes, I start to really crave a big pot of beans. It’s really the most comforting thing I can think of (as long as there’s a bit of crusty bread).

Pot of beans or stew?

In this recipe, I’m toeing the line on whether or not this is just a pot of beans or a simple fall bean stew. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because it’s delicious either way! If you wanted to bulk this up a bit more, you could add vegetables (sweet potato, squash) and/or greens (kale, chard).

White Beans + alternatives

Originally I wanted to use larger white beans to really make the beans known but what I realized it’s much nicer with the smaller beans. You could use any of the different white beans- it’s really up to you.

Also, if you wanted to speed this up, you could use canned beans. Simply drain the beans and add to a pot with enough broth to cover then heat the beans as the recipe states.

Light image with a bowl of tomato bean stew with arugula on top on a white background.

The Chili Paste

When it comes to the chili paste, I always have a jar of sambal oelek and garlic-chili paste on hand. As I mention in the notes section of the recipe, you can use whatever your favorite chili paste is- just know the heat level so you don’t make this meal too spicy! A bit of harissa paste could work.

Also, in a pinch, you could use crushed red pepper. Toast it in the ghee right before you add the spices and tomato paste. Start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. If you don’t like spice at all, swap the chili paste for a couple teaspoons smoked paprika.

What to serve it with

One of the reasons I like keeping this straight forward is it leaves room for some side dishes. You could serve up stew with a side of roasted sweet potatoes, twice-baked squash, or some simple garlicky greens.

Close-up image of white beans in a tomato broth with arugula and feta on top.
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Spicy White Bean Stew with Arugula

4 large servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • 1 cup dried great northern beans
  • 4 to 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled)
Chili Paste Mix
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon to 4 teaspoons chili paste (see note)
  • 2 to 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of flaky salt
  • Feta (for serving)
  • Bread (for serving)
  1. To start, rinse the dried white beans, place in a pot, and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Alternatively, combine the dried beans with water, bring to a boil for one minute, cover, and turn off the heat. Let quick soak for one hour.
  2. After soaking, drain and return to the pot. Add 4 cups of the broth and the four garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender; 40 to 50 minutes. If the broth level no longer covers the beans, add more as needed.
  3. While the beans cook, heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet. Shake the pan often until the spices are fragrant; just a minute or two. Grind the spices and set aside. Alternatively, use equal amounts of ground spices.
  4. Return the small pan to medium heat and add the ghee followed by the spices, tomato pasta, and chili paste (see note). Heat and whisk until the mixture is hot. 
  5. When the beans are tender and the broth level should be barely covering the beans. Stir in chili paste mixture and heat for a few minutes longer. Taste and adjust salt/chili paste levels as desired.
  6. In a small bowl, toss together the arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Divide the beans into 4 bowls and top with the arugula. Sprinkle with a bit of feta and serve with the bread.
When it comes to the chili paste, I tend to use a garlic-chili paste or sambal oelek. When I use either of these, I use up to the 4 teaspoons of chili paste. Use whichever chili paste you like, just know the heat level of each and what you’d like to end up with as a heat level. You can always add more chili paste to the overall bean dish. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time :50 minutes

Close-up image of a piece of bread topped with beans in a red broth.

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Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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beans. beans. beans.

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