This creamy white bean stew, with smoky thick-cut bacon and hearty vegetables, is the most comforting kind of recipe when a bowl of coziness is what’s craved.
White Beans Make for the Creamiest Bean Stew
A thick, rich bowl of stew is one of the most comforting meals.
The best part is that every bit of it is easily sopped up with thick slices of crusty bread—yum!
White beans have always been an amazing kind of bean in my book, because their texture is naturally rich and creamy, which makes them a perfect contender when it comes to use in soups and stews.
These tiny and almost pearl-like beans deliciously absorb any surrounding flavors that they’re paired and simmered with—especially those savory, smoky flavors that you find in crispy bacon, and garlic and herbs.
White beans tend to break down fairly quickly, and when gently mashed or stirred frequently with a spoon during the cooking process, they release their own natural creamy starchiness, giving a stew its body while adding lots of nutritious fiber and protein.
This creamy white bean stew with thick-cut bacon and vegetables is a healthy, quick-cooking one pot meal that’s ready to serve in about an hour—it’ll satisfy hungry bellies craving something cozy and warm, rich and creamy.
Tips & Tidbits
- Can-do for this stew: Good quality canned (organic) white beans are a great pick for this recipe, and make it super quick to prepare. Make sure to choose navy beans, if possible, which are smaller and creamier than cannellini beans.
- Stir and mash: Stir the stew occasionally to help the beans break down a little bit, or even mash them towards the end of the cooking process to help them release their natural thickener.
- Do ahead: This stew can easily be prepared ahead of time, even a couple of days—the flavor will deepen.
- Too thick? If by chance the stew thickens up a bit too much, you can always add a touch of water or even half and half.
- Don’t be chicken to add chicken: You can even add some shredded rotisserie chicken to this stew to make it even heartier and more filling.
- Go vegetarian: You can leave out the bacon and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Creamy White Bean Stew with Smoky Bacon
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
• 12 ounces apple smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 onion, small dice
• 2 carrots, small dice
• 2 celery stalks, small dice
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Pinch or two sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 6 (15 ounce) cans small white beans (or navy beans), drained and rinsed
• 4 cups chicken stock, hot
• 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
-Place a large Dutch oven, or heavy bottom pot, over medium-high heat;
-Once the pot is hot, add in a small drizzle of olive oil, and the chopped bacon; crisp the bacon completely until nice and brown, then remove with a slotted spoon, drain it on some paper towel, and set it aside for a moment; reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, and set that aside for a moment, as well; wipe out the pot, and return it to medium-high heat.
-Next, add back into the pot the bacon fat, along with the olive oil and the butter, and allow them to melt together;
-Once butter is melted and sizzling, add in the diced onion, carrots and celery, and allow them to soften and saute for about 5 minutes;
-Next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in about 2/3 of the reserved, crisped bacon, as well as the Italian seasoning, the sea salt and the pepper, along with the white beans, and stir to combine;
-Now add in the hot chicken stock, stir, and allow the stew to gently simmer for about 40-45 minutes, partially covered with lid;
-About half way through the cooking process, mash the beans a little bit with the back of your spoon, or with a potato masher, to break up the beans a little bit and release their natural starch to thicken the stew;
-After about 40 minutes, turn the heat off and finish the stew by adding in the chopped parsley, the lemon zest and the lemon juice;
-Serve the stew with some nice, crusty bread to dip, and garnish with some of the remaining crisped bacon.