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.

Bean stew

The recipe is inspired by “Fagioli all’uccelletto.” Like most Italian recipes, it’s made with simple ingredients and is excellent for everyday cooking.

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.

bean stew with spoon and bread

Ingredients & Substitutions

ingredients for bean stew

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Beans

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.

Tomatoes

We recommend whole canned peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. If you can’t find those, go for diced canned tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes.

Flavor base

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.

Aromatics

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

  • Pasta.
  • White or brown rice.
  • Toasted crusty bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Couscous or bulgur.
  • Quinoa.
  • 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.

Bean stew served on polenta

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.

vegetables frying in a Dutch oven

Add finely chopped sage, rosemary, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and fry for two more minutes or until you smell the herbs’ fragrant aroma.

fresh herbs and fried vegetables

Add the canned tomatoes, drained beans, vegetable broth, salt, and black pepper and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

bean stew after simmering

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.

bean stew with toasted bread

Serving suggestions

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.

Tips

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 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 on polenta

Questions

What is bean stew made of?

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.

What is white bean stew?

White bean stew is made with white bean varieties such as cannellini beans, navy beans, great northern beans, or butter beans.

What happens if you cook beans without soaking them?

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.

Storage

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:

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.

bean stew with crusty bread

Tuscan Bean Stew

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 15 votes
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.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Amrican-Italian

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.
    vegetables frying in a Dutch oven
  • Add 5 leaves sage, 1 sprig rosemary, 3 cloves garlic (all finely chopped), and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
    Fry for 2 more minutes.
    fresh herbs and fried vegetables
  • 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.
    bean stew after simmering
  • 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.
    bean stew with toasted bread

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 portion of bean stew out of 4 portions.
STORAGE
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.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 298kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 1075mg, Dietary Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 5416IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 25mg, Vitamin E: 4mg, Vitamin K: 22µg, Calcium: 145mg, Folate: 231µg, Iron: 5mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 90mg, Zinc: 2mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious!
    A hit for the whole family, my teenage daughter said I’ll have this again’!
    Thank you for this nutritious, filling and easy to make mid week recipe. I added half a courgette that was left over from last night’s dinner.

  2. Hi Nico and Louise. I just wanted to thank you for your delicious and sustainable recepies. That are not only easy to make but also nutritious. Keep it up and keep it coming.

    1. Hi Aida,
      Thanks so much for your kind message and support ❤️ We’re so happy you like our food, thanks for cooking along with us!
      All the best, Louise

  3. 5 stars
    Just what I was looking for now autumn is here. I’m not a big fan of sage but whenever I have tried one of your recipes it is delicious, and this was no exception. The sage and rosemary together makes the stew really warming and tasty. The only different thing I did was to add some parsnip that needed using up. Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks so much for coming back and leaving a comment – I’m so happy to hear you liked the stew (and the sage)! Great idea to add parsnip, you just have me an idea for another recipe! Have a great day. Nico

  4. 5 stars
    It tasted great! Added some green beans as well, but pretty much followed the recipe (for the ingredients, not the measurements). Grazie Nico.