Bean & Mushroom Stew

If you could make creamy risotto out of beans, I think this would be it! But there’s no cheese or cream–the beans do the creamy magic themselves, and the mushrooms add deep, earthy flavor.

This stew is winter–hearty and flavorful, topped with some bright, garlicky wilted spinach. I used cranberry beans, a bean I’d never cooked before, but loved. They’re similar in color to pinto when cooked but with more bite.

Stay warm!


Bean & Mushroom Stew

adapted from Mark Bittman

serves 4


  • 1 lb dry beans (cranberry, white northern, or pinto), soaked & rinsed 12 hours
  • 1.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced to the root but not in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon sage, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms
  • 1 lb spinach
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt + pepper
  • olive oil


1. In a large soup pot, add the beans, whole onion, and bay leaf, covering with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covered for 30-45 minutes, until the beans start to turn tender. Stir occasionally and keep your eye on the water, adding a little if the beans become dry.


2. In a medium bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms  with very hot water (doesn’t need to be boiling but should be very hot). Let the mushrooms resurrect for 20 minutes or so.

3. Meanwhile, clean and slice the cremini mushrooms and chop the sage and garlic.

4. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the water, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms and set aside.

5. When the beans are beginning to turn tender, season with salt and pepper. Remove the onion and bayleaf. Add the liquid from the porcini mushrooms and cook at  a simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender but not falling apart.

6. While the beans continue to simmer, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil (about 1.5 tablespoons). Add the mushrooms and sautee until they begin to turn golden brown and crisp up. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate. Set aside.


*Resist the urge to add more oil to the mushrooms–they notoriously soak oil up, but if you wait, they release water and do not need more oil.

7. Add a little more oil (1 tablespoon) to the pan and toss in 2 tablespoons of garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

8. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms to the beans, along with the rest of the garlic and sage, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Give a good stir and adjust seasoning if necessary.

9. Spoon the beans into four bowls, topping with the sauteed cremini mushrooms and spinach. Serve immediately.




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