Bean, kale and butternut winter stew

Just a winter plant-based stew with white beans, butternut squash and kale. All made with fresh ingredients, I didn’t use any aluminium cans in this recipe. Cans are convenient, but when I cook, I try to not use them too often.

Canned goods, especially with foods high in acidic content, such as tomatoes, contain bisphenol chemical (BPA). This is due to the chemicals in the lining of the can that eventually leach and find their way into the food. Even the new BPA-free cans are not chemical-free and concerns have been raised with very low FDA-approved doses of BPA in a person’s blood stream.

Safer choices are glass jars or bottles or stainless steel containers. Your next best option would be aseptic cartons or Tetra Pak containers.

Not using any cans is simple. I made this winter stew from scratch when I came home from work yesterday, and it wasn’t complicated. You can buy diced butternut squash and pre-washed and chopped curly kale leaves in grocery stores. Just make sure to rinse these ingredients out in a sieve under cold running tap water.

I didn’t even use a pressure cooker, since the beans had been soaking in a bowl of water for almost 12 hours. Soaking dry beans in water overnight or for 8 to 12 hours prior to cooking is recommended. Just make sure to drain/discard the water they have been soaking in and rinse out the beans using a sieve under cold running tap water.

All made in one pot on stove top and without cans, one bowl of this winter stew with crusty bread is a complete healthy meal. For the white beans, I used dry Soissons beans from France (picture below), which are similar to large Navy beans. You can also use other types of white beans, such as, Butterbeans (baby or large Lima), Cannellini or Great Northern beans.

The recipe is below. Enjoy!

Bean, kale and butternut winter stew

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200 grams) dry white beans (I used Soissons beans, can also use Butterbeans (Lima), Cannellini, Navy or Great Northern white beans)
  • Water for soaking beans
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • ½ teaspoon (tsp) powdered paprika (hot or mild)
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade or a good quality, low sodium organic store-bought kind *
  • 2 cups (300 grams) butternut squash, cubed
  • A handful of ripe cherry tomatoes, for added taste (optional)
  • 2-4 tbsps thick coconut milk (or a cream of choice)
  • 4 cups fresh curly kale leaves, large stems removed, rinsed out and roughly chopped into bite-size portions
  • Pink salt and ground pepper
  • Options: sprinkle servings with pumpkin seeds, red pepper flakes and/or extra ground pepper

* Note:  Do not dilute the stock in water or do not use clear bouillon. A full-bodied stock/broth is better.

Procedure

Put the dry beans in a bowl filled with water. Cover and let beans soak in water for 8 – 12 hours, or overnight.

In a soup pot, heat up the olive oil on stove top on medium-high. Reduce the heat and add the onions and garlic. Add salt. Sauté for 2 minutes in the hot oil until soft. Drain the soaked beans using a sieve and rinse them out well under cold running tap water. Add the beans to the onions and garlic mixture and toss. Add the paprika, ginger, oregano, cumin and bay leaf and keep mixing and tossing the beans for another 2 minutes until they are coated with the oil and spices.

Add the 4 cups of water (do not add the bouillon or cherry tomatoes at this stage because plain water is best for speeding up the cooking process of the beans). Mix and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer with cover on for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the beans are fork tender. Mix from time to time.

Add the 2 cups of vegetable stock or thick broth (can add more later, if desired). Add the cubed butternut squash and a handful of cherry tomatoes (optional) and simmer on medium-low with cover on for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender. Mix occasionally.

Mix in the coconut milk or cream of choice and then add the kale leaves. Simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes or so, until the kale leaves are soft and wilted. Season with salt and ground pepper. Serve in bowls with crusty bread. Adjust seasoning.

Store leftovers in a covered container in fridge. The stew can thicken, so go ahead and add some extra vegetable bouillon or water, as needed.

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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