This is a delicious rustic bean stew, cheap to make yet wonderfully filling and nutritious, and a particularly good dish for vegetarians. Do not add the salt to the beans until near the end of the cooking time, otherwise they seem to harden.
The day before cooking, pick over the beans, cover with plenty of cold water and leave overnight (soak each type of bean separately). Next day, drain the beans, place in a saucepan or saucepans (cook each type of bean separately) and cover with fresh cold water. Add a chunk of carrot, a small onion and a bouquet garni to each pot. Bring to the boil, boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer until almost tender. The cooking time varies according to the variety and age of the beans, so for this reason it is better to cook the beans in separate pots and mix them later. Add a pinch of salt towards the end of cooking.
When the beans are tender but not mushy, strain and reserve
© 2001 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.