Spanish three-bean stew (4 servings)

According to the news, most of the country seems to be experiencing a cold snap right now. What better time to enjoy a hearty bowl of stew? This recipe is chock-full of veggies and features a slow-burn kick from hot smoked paprika.

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 14.5-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

Steps:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the carrot and green pepper to the onion and saute for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the paprika and garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the broth, green beans, and kidney/black beans to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are tender-crisp, about 8-10 minutes. (I kept the lid on but left it vented.) Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

This is a modified recipe from one of Williams-Sonoma's vegetarian cookbooks. It comes from the "30 Minutes Start to Finish" section of the book, making it a handy weeknight option. The original recipe included a leek, which I didn't have, and didn't include the bell pepper, which I'm glad I decided to add. The recipe also called for only kidney beans, but I used one can of black beans since I had only a single can of kidneys. I'm sure the type of bean doesn't make a huge difference here, although I'd think something soft like cannellini beans might fall apart.

A few quick notes: If you still haven't discovered Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base, try to find it in your local store. I've bought it from a few of the stores around here, and now I don't know what I'd do without it. I used to use chicken broth from a can or box, but then I realized it was stupid to cook vegetarian but still use chicken broth. (Duh.) Boxed/canned vegetable broth just tastes like garlicky saltwater. This stuff is amazing though. It's not pretty to look at -- just to warn you -- but it's convenient and truly tasty. (I want to try the mushroom base next!) Assuming you use a vegan broth, this stew is vegan.

Also, next time you're at Central Market, visit "the spice guy" at the Herb Shop. I found the hot smoked Spanish paprika at his stand, and I can't imagine making this stew with plain old boring paprika. I've bought everything from Cajun spice mix to fine sea salt from this stand. The variety of herbs, spices, and other seasoning products is astounding.

Serve this with crusty Italian bread so you can mop up the spicy broth!