Consider this spicy white bean stew a dispatch from the winter that never ends. I had a beauty of a vibrant, spring-green pasta planned for this week, but the endless rain, dreary grey skies, and bone-chilling cold called for something a bit more cozy. Highly familiar comfort food felt especially key in a general way.
The last couple weeks have had a few extra sets of challenges outside of the lack of sunshine. I feel like I’ve been saying this next line to myself for a long time now: “Once I get through this week, I’ll have time to ________.” Guess what? I never get the time. Once the week in question is over, another crushing one takes its place. I speak about the virtue of saying no to things all the time, but simultaneously say yes to pretty much everything. I think we’re all in some version of this boat.
On the flight back from Iowa last weekend (my talk at the sanctuary went great–thank you for all of your public speaking tips!), I listened to this episode of Oprah’s podcast and was honestly struck by the guest’s straightforward description of prayer (as a decidedly non-religious person). It can be as simple as asking the universe to take away whatever challenging/frustrating/overall stress-inducing thing that you’re dealing with.
Of course, this isn’t about some mystical force reaching down from the sky and removing your discomfort. It’s about focusing on your own set of essentials in that moment as well as those ever-present good graces, and then cutting away everything else without guilt. Creating a feeling of support and relief in order to move forward.
So with that fresh in my mind, I took a tiny break from all social media (deleted the apps and everything) and from posting new content here so that I could focus on some other stuff. I missed being here, but the social media fast felt good. I’ve never taken a dedicated break like that since I installed the apps on my first smart phone years ago, which in retrospect is kind of wild to me.
While I pared down my online world, I also went a lot simpler with my cooking too, leaning on our go-to’s and just simpler preparations in general. How many versions of this soup/spicy white bean stew have I posted over the years? I guess I just know what I like. This version is SUPER thick, has lots of cozy potatoes, a detectable smokiness, and a good hit of spice to boot out the last gasp of dreary and cold weather (hopefully). It’s easy to make and a total winner. Other cozy soups of mine in this style: butternut minestrone with chickpeas and chard, smoky chickpea, cabbage and lentil stew, and braised harissa eggplant with chickpeas.
Hope you’re having a great week! So nice to be back here :)
Smoky & Spicy White Bean Stew with Tomatoes & Kale
- 1 tablespoon heat-tolerant oil, such as avocado
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 1 medium carrot, small dice
- 1 stick of celery, small dice
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste (see headnote)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ lb new potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ¾ cups (one 14.5 oz can) cooked navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup chopped green beans
- 2 cups chopped kale, packed
- The fire-roasted and crushed tomatoes from Muir Glen really bring out the smoky vibes here. A couple drops of liquid smoke would also be great if you have that around.
- I used a mix of dried Aleppo and Urfa chilis here, but any dried chili flakes are fine. As always, adjust to your own heat preference.
- I had beautiful green Romano beans on hand (a local hot house grows them all year), but you can use straight up green beans instead!
- Heat a medium sized soup pot or brasier over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, pour in the oil.
- Add the onions to the pot and stir. Saute the onions until translucent and quite soft, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery to the pot and stir. Cook until the celery is softened and bright green, about 3 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and stir.
- Add the chili flakes, smoked paprika, thyme, and garlic to the pot and stir. Keep stirring until garlic is very fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir. Break up the tomato paste with your spoon and stir to coat the vegetables.
- Add the potatoes and navy beans to the pot and stir to coat in the seasonings. You should see a faint red slick at the bottom of the pot. Season the potatoes liberally with salt and pepper. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine everything. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir once more.
- Place the lid on the pot and bring the stew to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and remove the lid. Simmer until the potatoes are quite tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the chopped green beans to the pot and stir. Simmer until green beans are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the kale to the pot and push it down into the stew with your spoon. Place the lid back on the pot so that the kale can steam a bit. Let the kale wilt for about 30 seconds.
- Check the smoky and spicy white bean stew for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve the stew hot with ground black pepper on top, extra chili flakes, and chopped herbs of choice (I used chives from my garden).