Our bean stew is an Italian-inspired recipe with a rich tomato sauce, fragrant herbs, and an irresistible rustic feel that will take you to the Tuscan countryside.
It’s an excellent recipe for a quick and fulfilling weeknight dinner, ready in just over 30 minutes, but also great as a meal prep recipe as it keeps well for days.
Table of Contents
You can put it together in one pot in 30 minutes and serve it with rice, couscous, polenta, or a slice of crusty bread.
Also, the bean stew is great for meal prep as it keeps in the fridge for several days, and you can freeze it for months.
Diet: suitable for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
You can make bean stew with most bean varieties.
We make it with cannellini beans (white bean stew) or borlotti beans (in pictures).
You can substitute pinto beans, navy beans, butter beans, great northern beans, black beans, and red kidney beans or use chickpeas.
To make this in 30 minutes, we recommend using canned beans. If you have more time, you can go for dry beans.
In this case, soak them overnight, then boil them in lightly salted water until tender.
We recommend whole canned peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. If you can’t find those, go for diced canned tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes.
The flavor base – soffritto in Italian – is made with extra virgin olive oil, carrot, red or yellow onion, and celery. Garlic is optional.
It adds complexity and richness to the bean stew, and it’s an essential part of this recipe.
Fresh sage leaves and rosemary are delicious with beans, and we recommend them.
Add red pepper flakes or chili if you like a hint of spiciness or a pinch of smoked paprika or chipotle powder for a mild, smoky flavor.
You can add a couple of bay leaves for an even richer flavor.
You can substitute oregano and dried thyme for sage and rosemary. If you use dried herbs, do so in smaller quantities than fresh herbs, as their flavor is concentrated.
Salt and pepper
We use sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve it with
- White or brown rice.
- Toasted crusty bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
- Couscous or bulgur.
- Flatbread, pita bread, naan bread, or rosemary focaccia.
Top it with fresh parsley, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice optionally.
How to make bean stew
Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pan, skillet, or Dutch oven; add chopped onion, carrot, and celery, and fry gently on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Tip: You can finely chop the veggies with a chef’s knife or save time with a food processor.
Add finely chopped sage, rosemary, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and fry for two more minutes or until you smell the herbs’ fragrant aroma.
Add the canned tomatoes, drained beans, vegetable broth, salt, and black pepper and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste and adjust for salt, then serve it with your favorite grain, pasta, or bread.
You can top it with fresh parsley, good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.
We love serving our bean stew with grains and a side of sautéed veggies such as sautéed kale or spinach. Also:
- For a quick 5-minute preparation, we go for couscous. No stirring is required; it’s a perfect grain choice for busy weeknights.
- Increase your veggie intake and make a quick portion of cauliflower rice. You can have the cauliflower rice instead of the white rice or do half-half.
- Serve it with crusty bread, rosemary focaccia, flatbread, or Italian piadina.
- Make it Italian and serve it with instant polenta. It’s a creamy and wholesome side dish of cornmeal, and you can make it in 5 minutes.
Save chopping time!
If you are often in a hurry and don’t have time to chop celery, onion, and carrot, you can use a food processor to chop up the vegetables.
We like to chop more vegetables than needed on a Sunday evening to save time during the week. We use a food processor for that and try not to over-process the veggies.
Then we put them in a freezer-friendly food container, like one for baby food, and freeze the whole thing.
How to make instant polenta?
Corn and beans have been eaten together for centuries, and they complement each other well from a nutritional point of view. They also taste delicious together!
Stir the polenta in hot water with a pinch of salt, slowly, with a whisk, then simmer while stirring it for about 5 minutes. The ratios of water to polenta should be on the package.
Arrange the polenta onto a plate, add the bean stew, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. It’s an earthy, comforting, and nutritious dinner that will satiate your family too.
Bean stew is made with a flavor base of onion, celery, and carrot fried in extra virgin olive oil until soft.
Herbs and garlic are added to flavor the dish. The beans are then simmered in fresh or canned tomatoes and vegetable broth.
White bean stew is made with white bean varieties such as cannellini beans, navy beans, great northern beans, or butter beans.
Canned beans don’t require soaking as they are already cooked. Dry beans, however, benefit from soaking.
We soak our beans in water for 12 to 24 hours to make them tender and easier to digest. People in Mediterranean countries have been doing this for centuries.
Science backs this practice. Soaking for 12 or more hours breaks down 75% to 90% of oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that can cause bloating.
In conclusion, soaked beans cook faster, have a tender texture, and are easier to digest.
Make ahead: This Tuscan bean stew is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Its flavor becomes more intense as the stew sits in the refrigerator.
Refrigerator: Keep leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or stove top with a dash of water.
Freezer: Let beans cool down completely, transfer them to a freezer-friendly container, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: in the microwave or a saucepan on the stovetop with a dash of water.
More stews and soups
If you love this bean stew, try one of our other easy and wholesome stews and soups:
- Tuscan bean soup with leafy greens and white beans.
- Spinach stew with chickpeas, cumin, fresh spinach, and pine nuts.
- Butternut squash soup: an easy-to-follow soup recipe with a bake-and-blend technique.
- One–pot chickpea stew with sweet potato, tomato, and plant-based protein.
- Lentil curry with a rich, earthy, and endlessly creamy texture.
- Chickpea curry: an easy curry recipe ready in 30 minutes.
More bean recipes
Get more easy and healthy dinner inspiration with these bean recipes:
For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.
Tuscan Bean Stew
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 1 rib celery chopped
- 5 leaves sage finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) beans any, we use borlotti or cannellini
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet; add 1 large onion, 2 medium carrots, and 1 rib celery (all chopped), and fry gently on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add 5 leaves sage, 1 sprig rosemary, 3 cloves garlic (all finely chopped), and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.Fry for 2 more minutes.
- Add 1 large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, 1 cup vegetable broth, 2 cans (15 ounces each) beans (drained), 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 twists black pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and adjust for salt, then serve it with your favorite grain, pasta, or toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.You can top it with fresh parsley, good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.
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