South American Bean Stew

This is a great stew to bring to a potluck as it does not have any common allergens. It’s also vegan, but you can add a little cooked chicken for extra protein if you prefer.

What started as “refrigerator stew” at our friend’s farm has become a regular staple in our fall rotation.


2 medium yellow onions
4 large sweet potatoes, or 1 butternut squash
6 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, or equivalent fresh tomatoes
1 pound dried white beans, such as cannellini or navy
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup red or white wine
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. Italian herb seasoning, or a combination of oregano, marjoram, and thyme
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cooked chicken (optional)
Fresh basil or cilantro for garnish (optional)


In a pressure cooker, cook the beans to your preferred doneness. I like to presoak beans overnight and then cook on high pressure for 40-50 minutes; larger beans require a longer cooking time.

While the beans are cooking, wash and cut all of the vegetables into chunks. When the beans are done and de-pressurizing you can start cooking the soup.

In a large stock pot, sauté the onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add the spices and stir until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients, including the beans and their liquid, to the stock pot. Cover, and let simmer on low for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and fall apart, stirring occasionally. If you are using chicken, add it toward the end of the cooking time to heat through. Serve with a crusty artisanal loaf or sweet cornbread.

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is a librarian as well as an avid knitter and occasional knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, reading, painting, and writing with fountain pens.