White bean stew with porcini

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    8

Appears in

The amazingly delicious fresh porcini are only available in autumn and they are very dear, but the dried porcini I’ve used here are less expensive and work well.

A word of warning: the length of time it takes to cook dried pulses depends on their age; if they have been sitting in the cupboard for a long time, they really will need soaking overnight in water to soften.

Ingredients

  • 400 g dried haricot beans, soaked in water for at least 5 hours or overnight
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 40 g dried porcini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced into crescents
  • a small handful of sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves

To serve

  • 75 g baby spinach leaves
  • 4–5 tbsp crème fraiche
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Drain the soaked haricot beans and tip them into a large saucepan or flameproof casserole. Cut the entire bulb of garlic horizontally into two halves and nestle both halves in among the beans. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the beans for 1–1½ hours or until tender. Top up with water if necessary. Drain the beans and transfer to a bowl. Fish out the garlic halves and pop the softened cloves from their skins into the beans.

  2. Meanwhile, soak the dried porcini in 400 ml boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and roughly chop.

  3. Put the olive oil and butter into the rinsed-out bean pot and place on a medium heat. Add the onions and celery and fry until soft, then add the sage and continue to cook for a further minute. Stir through the porcini mushrooms, beans and garlic. Nestle in the bay leaves, then pour over the reserved porcini soaking liquid.

  4. Reduce the heat to low and allow to bubble at a languorous pace for 30 minutes, until the sauce has both thickened and reduced in quantity. The beans should be really soft. Remove from the heat and stir through the spinach just before serving, allowing the leaves to wilt in the warmth of the stew. Stir through the crème fraiche and season well. Serve in bowls, garnished with freshly chopped parsley.