This easy butterbean stew is one of my go-to meals when I don’t have much in the fridge and just want a simple, healthy and hearty meal that can be made from pantry staples. The creaminess of the butterbeans pairs absolutely perfectly with smoky paprika and rich plum tomatoes. This is a great nutrient-rich vegan-friendly dinner for anyone on a budget and goes perfectly with crusty bread and vegetables on the side.
A long time ago, before I decided to stop eating meat, I became obsessed with the rich and smoky pork belly and butterbean stew a little cafe near me had on their specials menu.
Once I stopped eating meat, I of course no longer craved the pork portion of the stew – but there was something about that rich, smoky flavour that I wanted to re-create.
That’s where this easy butterbean stew was born from. It’s got a slightly deeper, richer flavour than this white bean stew, and is great as a main meal or as a side dish.
The key ingredient in this stew is the smoked paprika. It gives the stew a wonderfully deep, rich flavour that pairs so perfectly with the big, creamy butterbeans. For another bean-inspired recipe, you might also like these delicious Mexican beans. For more stew-y, wholesome recipes, try this gorgeous sausage and bean casserole.
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Butter beans: The size of the butterbeans makes this stew feel particularly hearty. However, you could also use cannellini beans as a substitution.
- Tinned plum tomatoes: This makes up the rich tomato sauce that pairs perfectly with the butterbeans. You just need to gently break up the tomatoes with the back of your spoon. You could also use tinned chopped tomatoes instead, but personally, I prefer the plum tomatoes.
- Red onion and garlic: Take the time to really finely dice the red onion and mince your garlic (I just use a garlic crusher for extra ease). If you don’t have red onions, you could use white onions instead.
- Tomato paste: This adds an extra shot of tomato flavour to the stew, and helps coat the butterbeans in your spices.
- Smoked paprika: This is the crucial ingredient that gives the stew that delicious deep, smoky flavour. I wouldn’t recommend swapping this out for regular paprika as it won’t have the same flavour.
- Spices: I also add in cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Water: Once you’ve tipped the tinned plum tomatoes into your pan, fill the tin up about halfway and add that to the stew, too.
In terms of tools, this is a one-pot recipe. All you’ll need is a chopping board and knife for dicing the onion and parsley, a strainer to drain the tin of butterbeans, a large pan to make the stew, and a spoon for stirring.
How To Make This Butterbean Stew
To start, grab a large pan and heat up some oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add some finely diced red onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Be sure to keep stirring the onions so they cook evenly.
Next, add some minced garlic to the pan and cook for another minute. Then, add your spices and herbs, along with some tomato paste, and cook the mixture for another minute so the spices can activate and the flavours can meld together.
Now it’s time to add the star ingredient – the butterbeans. Stir them in to make sure they are fully coated in the onion, tomato, and spice mixture. Then, add a can of tinned plum tomatoes and some water. Bring the stew to a boil and gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of your spoon.
Once the stew is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced. If you find that the stew is too thick, you can add more water to thin it out to your desired consistency.
When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle some chopped parsley over the top of the stew for a fresh burst of flavour. And don’t forget to enjoy it with some crusty bread for dipping and scooping up all of the deliciousness.
This butterbean stew is such a versatile recipe that you can really adapt it to suit your tastes and what you have in your cupboards. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Swap out the butterbeans for cannellini beans or other white beans
- Add in some vegan chorizo for an even smokier flavour
- Stir in some crispy fried tofu at the end to add more protein
- Add in some more vegetables, such as red peppers, sweet potato, and butternut squash
- Par-boil some new potatoes and add those for a butterbean and potato stew
- Swap out the smoked paprika for curry powder to make a butterbean curry
My favourite way to serve this butterbean stew is with crusty bread (or hot buttery garlic bread), and maybe some other vegetables like corn on the cob on the side. However, it’s also great with:
- Mashed potato
- On top of a jacket potato
- Quinoa or giant couscous
- Bread bread and a garlic and herb dip, something like hummus or tahini
This butterbean stew will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days after cooking. Just make sure it’s piping hot before serving. You can also freeze this recipe for up to 3 months. Defrost it fully before cooking.
More recipes you’ll like:
- 1.5 tbsp oil
- 1 red onion (finely diced)
- 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 0.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 400g tin of butter beans (drained)
- 1 400g tin of plum tomatoes
- 0.5 cup of water
- Parsley to garnish
- Add your oil to a large pan and place it on medium heat. Add finely diced red onion and saute for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Keep stirring the onions.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the spices and herbs and tomato paste, cooking the mixture for another minute so the spices can activate.
- Tip in the butterbeans and stir to get them fully coated in the onion/tomato/spice mixture.
- Add the tinned plum tomatoes and water. Bring the stew to a boil and gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of your spoon.
- Reduce the stew to a simmer and leave for 15 -20 minutes until the sauce has reduced. Add more water if necessary.
- Sprinkle over chopped parsley just before serving, and enjoy with crusty bread!
This easy butterbean stew is delicious served with crusty garlic bread and vegetables (like tenderstem broccoli and roasted sweetcorn) on the side. However, it could also be break paired with mashed potato or on top of a baked potato.