Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Boil hard for 10 minutes, then change the water. Add the tied bouquet garni of bay leaves, celery and thyme. Then cook for about 1 hour, until just done. Drain and discard the bouquet garni, but reserve the cooking liquid.
Blister and blacken the peppers over an open flame or on a ridged grill pan. Cover for 10 minutes, then peel. Destem and deseed the peppers and the chilli peppers. Cut the sweet peppers into 1 cm/½ in strips. Peel and dice the onions and the garlic.
Put all the vegetables in a heavy casserole and sweat for 5 minutes in the olive oil. Add the beans, the paprika and tomato sauce. Turn with a spoon to mix evenly and pour over just enough of the cooking liquid barely to cover. Season with salt and pepper.
Put on the lid and
Just before serving, snip the chives over.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.