Fabada – A Spanish White Bean Stew

Chef Karista Bennett @ VRAI Magazineby Karista Bennett

Cooking is always an adventure in my kitchen.  Especially when I’m testing a new recipe or a new recipe idea.

Sometimes those recipe ideas are huge successes and end up being a family favorite – and sometimes they are sadly lacking and so awful they end up in the compost bin. Even a trained chef can create a few recipe stinkers once in a while. 


I had been reading about Spanish cuisine several years ago and while digging around in the foundations of the cuisine, I found an interesting Spanish White Bean stew called Fabada. I was extremely intrigued. The hearty ingredients in the stew combined with large Spanish white beans, saffron and sometimes paprika, sounded like a dish my clients, as well as my family, would love. This was a recipe I had to re-create.

Just like most traditional cultural dishes, every chef and every family has their own version of Fabada. I found multiple methods and mouth-watering recipes for preparing this hearty winter dish.

Spanish White Bean Stew- VRAI MagazineFabada Asturiana is a slow cooked white bean and pork stew that is served all over Spain. Because it’s such a hearty dish, it’s usually served during the winter months. The stew is filled with large Asturian white beans called Fabes de la Granja and it also typically includes pork shoulder or bacon, black pudding, chorizo and saffron.

Although I adore pulled pork in most any recipe, I decided to keep things simple and add only chorizo and diced smoked ham to the stew. I wanted to create a stew that didn’t require two days or even one long day to prepare. After all, it’s not often I have an entire day to spend in the kitchen cooking – yes, even I have limited time.

If you don’t eat pork you can still enjoy this stew. For a pork free version, chorizo can be found prepared with chicken; and leaving out the diced ham is perfectly acceptable.

How about that black pudding you say? I’m not a huge fan of black pudding. It’s not something most Americans think of when making a recipe, and it’s not readily available here in the states. So you can thank me now… I left that particular ingredient out of my Fabada.

After testing a few versions of this Spanish stew, some good, some not so good, I found a winning recipe. It’s certainly far from the traditional Spanish White Bean Stew, but it’s a lovely homage to a festive cuisine that displays character and excitement in every recipe.

I think this is what I love most about cooking.  Finding a recipe that intrigues me and re-creating it to suit my family’s tastes and lifestyle.  This lovely Spanish White Bean Stew has now become a family favorite. A little spicy, hearty, flavorful and simply prepared on a weeknight or for a cozy winter weekend.  Your tastebuds will not be disappointed!

Spanish White Bean Stew (Fabada)- Karista Bennett for VRAI Magazine

Spanish White Bean Stew (Fabada)
 
Author:
Serves: 4 Servings
Ingredients
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2- 15 ounce cans white beans (I use Cannellini beans, Eden Organic is my favorite brand and they are BPA free cans!)
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ lb Spanish Chorizo sausage links, either cooked or uncooked, slice the chorizo links into rounds.
  • 1 cup diced smoked ham, or more to taste (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, especially if the chorizo is spicy)
Instructions
  1. If using uncooked chorizo: In a large soup pot over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil and brown the chorizo slices. When the chorizo is done, remove it from the pot and set aside to cool. If using cooked chorizo slices, follow the directions below.
  2. In the same pot add a little more oil if needed and then add the diced onions and sauté until wilted. Then add in the garlic and sauté a minute longer.
  3. Stir in the chicken stock, bay leaf, cooked chorizo slices, diced ham and paprika to the soup pot and very gently simmer about 10 minutes. If your chorizo isn’t spicy, this is a good time to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the pot.
  4. Next, stir in the beans, keeping heat on low. Let the stew gently simmer for about 10 more minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. This stew gets better with time. If I have the time, I let it simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Then I remove it from the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with crusty bread to dunk into the stew and a salad of winter greens for a complete meal. This stew will hold in the refrigerator for several days.

3 comments

  1. Fantastic soup and actually a recipe that can be pulled together without a huge effort. Love to have that option! cheers-

  2. Thanks Wendy! I love that about this soup as well… the original Fabada being much more labor intensive but I’m sure it’s worth it. Until then, I make the short version. 🙂

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