There are some winter meals that have comfort written all over them and my recipe for Tuscan bean stew and herb dumplings certainly ticks all the boxes. I remember tasting this in Tuscany in a local country restaurant two years ago and I rushed straight into my kitchen upon my return to reinvent this wonder. A rich tomato based stew made with Italian beans, fresh veg and all the flavours you would pick if you had to travel to Italy yourself! But the pièce de résistance has to be the herb dumplings to soak up the delicious juices.
Why you will love this recipe
- Fresh easily sourced ingredients. It’s as simple as that. These ingredients can be found in your local veggie store from fresh tomatoes and dried beans to the fresh herbs.
- Easy to make. It’s a lot easier to make than you think! Everything can be prepared in your food processor, even the dumplings. It can also be made the traditional way too.
- Can be made ahead. This is a make ahead meal. You can make it and freeze it in its entirety or make it in sections to freeze: think of it as an extra pair of hands. Or simply make it the day before and heat it up. It actually tastes even better the next day as it allows the herbs and spices to infuse.
- Versatile. While this recipe is a bean stew with herb dumplings it can be so much more. Make it into a chorizo bean stew, a cod bean stew or a chicken bean stew. The choice is yours.
Let’s talk about the main ingredients
- Tomatoes. These form the base of the soffritto sauce so make sure they are as ripe as possible. The riper they are the more intense the flavour. This results in the best soffritto you can make. You can use a deli passata if you don’t have time to make your own tomato base but don’t scrimp on using fresh chopped tomatoes.
- Red and yellow peppers. I like to blacken my peppers then peel off the skin. By cooking them this way it brings out the sweet subtle falvours. You can take a short cut and buy the roasted peppers but by making them yourself you will definitely notice the difference! These can be prepared the day before and stored with a drizzle of olive oil in the fridge.
- Beans. I like to soak and pre cook the beans myself as it gives them a more wholesome and nutty flavour to the dish. however you can also use tinned or jarred beans. You can use numerous beans including barlotti beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans , black-eyed beans and butter beans to name but a few.
- Herbs. I use a combination of mixed dried herbs (which intensify flavour) and fresh herbs (which provides a more aromatic flavour). Fresh basil and parsley complements the flavours in this dish but sage and thyme works well too.
- Sun-dried tomato pesto. This is my little extra special ingredient. It adds a rustic nutty boost of flavour to the stew.
- Red peppers. These form an integral part of any soffritto base and I like to use red or yellow peppers for sweetness.
- Garlic. I use Spanish garlic as it has a more intense flavour, however any garlic will add the punch you need.
- Balsamic vinegar. This adds a smoky savour taste which complements the tomato base and accentuated the overall flavour of the bean stew with the herbs in the dumplings.
- Leeks. Instead of celery I use leeks. It’s just a preference of mine and adds a sweetness to the sauce as well as a less stringy texture. But by all means use celery instead.
- Red Wine. I know I know. The traditional recipe for soffritto uses white wine. But the red wine adds a richness to the tomato sauce and a depth and flavour that white wine just can’t. But you can use white wine and you will still have a delicious meal.
If you like this then you will love my recipe for Vegetarian Chilli With Chocolate another heart warming recipe for winter.Print
Tuscan bean stew made with fresh tomatoes, beans and all the flavours of Italy. Topped with herb dumplings to soak up the juices
1 red onion, chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot, diced in bite sized pieces
1 courgette, diced
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon tomato puree
2 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto
20g homemade vegetable stock or sprinkling of organic vegetable bouillon for flavour
20ml red wine
200g fresh tomatoes, chopped
100g fresh passata
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 handful fresh basil, chopped reserving some for serving.
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
200g cooked mixed beans
For the dumplings
100g raw almonds
20g plain flour
1 slice rye or spelt bread made into breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
10ml olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 170˚C.
Start by preparing the vegetables. Heat the olive oil and butter over a medium heat.
Add the prepared onions, leeks and pepper and sweat for 2 minutes covered, stirring at intervals.
Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute before adding the carrots and courgettes. Sweat for a further 5 minutes stirring regularly.
Add the paprika and red pepper flakes and mix continuously for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and sun-dried tomato pesto until well mixed.
Add the vegetable stock and red wine, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes on a very low heat stirring regularly.
Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and passata and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the stew has thickened.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the herbs, fresh and dried. Turn off the heat and cool for 10 minutes while making the dumplings.
Remove a third of the mixture and blend to thicken in a food processor then return it to the remainder of the stew. Add the cooked beans.
To make the dumplings add the nuts, flour and breadcrumbs to a bowl. Add the seasoning and chopped herbs and mix well. Add the olive oil and egg and mix until well combined. Roll into balls and place on a lined baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until firm. Heat the Tuscan vegetable stew and add the dumplings to cook for 10 minutes on a low heat.
Serve topped with basil and crusty bread. Enjoy!
For meat lovers add chopped parma ham or diced chorizo for a smoky flavour.
I prefer to cook the beans myself as they are more hearty with a bite to the stew. Make sure you soak them the night before cooking and cook before adding to the stew
This can be made without the dumplings and served with rice or potatoes.
Keywords: Bean Stew with herb dumplings