Butter Bean & Herb Stew

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Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

I love pulses and dried beans. I used to think they were only for winter when fresh beans and peas were unavailable. What a stupid idea! Over the years I’ve come to depend on them for all sorts of dishes at all times of the year. The following recipe is great whether served hot as a winter lunch with crusty bread and steamed cabbage, served cold on bruschetta at a summer picnic or warmed lightly to serve with barbecued tuna drizzled with basil oil.

As with all dried pulses, don’t add salt until the end of the cooking process or the beans will turn out tough – one of cooking’s little mysteries.


  • 500g (18oz) dried butter beans, soaked in cold water overnight
  • 2 medium leeks, finely sliced, then washed to remove grit
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 10cm (4in) stem of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 12 medium fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon-thyme leaves
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper


Drain the beans and rinse well before putting them in a deep pot and covering with plenty of water. Bring to the boil and cook at a brisk simmer for half an hour, removing foam from the surface. Then add the leeks and onion, the first four herbs, the garlic and the olive oil, stir well and continue cooking for another hour. Make sure there’s always at least 3cm (1in) of liquid covering the beans or they may get a little dry. Towards the end test one – the beans should be firm but not crunchy and shouldn’t be cooked to a point where they break up. When they’re nearly done, add the lemon juice and parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes; test for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. The beans are excellent eaten at once but, like most stewed foods, are even better the next day.