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White bean and pickle stew

White bean stew for web

I put pickles on pretty much anything, especially during my second pregnancy when I panicked on getting near to the bottom of the jar of Marks & Spencer’s mustard seed gherkins. Most of the time pickles, gherkins and cornichons are eaten cold, to make the most of their crunch and acidity. But they keep their crunch when added to soups and stews, bringing texture and a hit of sour interest. Here they sit next to onions, beans and greens and a smattering of dill to make a quick stew that tastes much more layered and complicated than it is to make.

40 mins
White bean stew for web


  • 50g unsalted butter (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 × 400g tins or 1 × 600g jar cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock (made with 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder or 1⁄2 a stock cube)
  • 1⁄2 a head (125g) cavolo nero, de-stemmed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 12 cornichons, chopped, plus 4 tablespoons of their pickling brine
  • 1⁄2 a bunch of dill (10g), roughly chopped
  • Parmesan or vegan Parmesan- style cheese, grated, to finish
  • 4 tablespoons crème fraîche or oat crème fraîche
  1. Cook the onions

    Heat 50g unsalted butter (if you are using it) and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep sauté pan or wide saucepan over a medium heat. Add 2 peeled and finely sliced medium onions and cook for 10 minutes until golden and beginning to crisp. Take out half of the onions and put to one side.

  2. Add the beans

    Add two 400g drained tins, or 600g jarred, cannellini beans to the pan with 1 litre hot vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and use the back of a spoon to squash about half the beans to make the stew creamy. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, until the beans are hot and starting to break down.

  3. Add the greens

    De-stem 125g cavolo nero. The best way to do this is to pinch a thumb and finger across the stem at the base, then run them along the stem, separating the leaves from the stem. Save the stems for a vegetable stock another day, or compost them, then roughly chop the leaves into bite- sized pieces, add to the stew with 6 chopped cornichons and 4 tablespoons of pickling brine and cook for 5–7 minutes until the greens are soft. Taste and season with salt and pepper, adding more brine if needed.

  4. Finish the stew

    Once the greens are soft, spoon the stew into bowls, top with
    the reserved onions, 6 chopped cornichons, 10g roughly chopped dill, some more olive oil, some grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan-style cheese and a spoonful of crème fraîche.

Additional information

As featured in

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Easy Wins

Award-winning and bestselling cook Anna Jones gives her golden rules for easy wins in the kitchen with super-simple recipes that are bursting with flavour and kind to the planet.

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