summer stew with borlotti beans and courgette

i found fresh borlotti beans in the local turkish supermarket earlier this week and wanted to find a way to make the most of their deliciousness. given the hot weather frankfurt has been having in recent weeks (temperatures 35-40c haven’t been uncommon), it perhaps surprising hat i chose to make a stew but once we had a cooler day and given its vegan character it was light to eat it was a nice change  from salad.

the recipe is from amy chaplin’s at home in the whole food kitchen, a book i was sent to review and which i’m really enjoying. it’s vegetarian and mostly vegan and gluten-free, with a good introductory section about ingredients, stocking your kitchen (for this sort of cooking) and some basic recipes and guidance of preparing ingredients.  the rest of the book has a broad range of recipes that will take you from breakfast through to the evening, with snacks and treats along the (healthy) way. everything seems to be put together in a quiet thoughtful way, rather than being full of big brash flavours and combinations and i’ve found it really encouraging when it comes to using ingredients which you might be less than familiar with – cooking with coconut oil, trying tempah and considering making my own nut milks are all new to me.

having said that, there are aspects of the book which i know some people will dislike – for example, all the recipes tell you to use filtered water and at the relevant point, to compost items such as bay leaves which are being discarded from the finished dish; i read a wonderfully raging review about this aspect of the book.  

regardless of this, which i find easy to ignore, the recipes i have tried have been good and it’s easy enough to skip over some of the time-consuming techniques and use your own shortcuts. this stew was delicious – the broth was light and full of flavour and i really liked the intensity of the flavour of the roasted courgette; i wasn’t keen on the pistou as an accompaniment as i thought it overwhelmed the delicacy of the vegetable flavours.

amy chaplin’s late summer stew with heirloom beans and parsley pistou (serves 4)


150g white runner beans, lima or borlotti beans, sorted and soaked for 12-24 hours in 960ml filtered water, or 1.3kg fresh beans in their pods

960ml filtered water

5cm piece kombu (abby note: i omitted this)

4 bay leaves

roasted courgette:

5 golden courgettes (c675g), sliced into 1.2cm rounds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

45g basil leaves

4 teaspoons chopped thyme

2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano

1.35kg tomatoes (about 8 large), peeled and chopped* (abby note: i used tinned)

freshly ground black pepper

parsley pistou (makes about 120ml):

40g chopped flat leaf parsley

60ml plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

scant ¼ teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

make the pistou:

place parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and a pinch of black pepper in a bowl; stir to combine. season to taste. store any leftover pistou in a jar in the fridge and use within a few days.

cook the beans:

if you’re using dried beans, rinse the soaked beans in fresh water and place in a large pan with the kombu, bay leaves and filtered water. bring to a rapid boil over a high heat. remove any foam that rises to the surface with a small sieve or slotted spoon. cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. every now and then check that the beans are still simmering and covered in plenty of water – if too much water evaporates, add more, bring to the boil then return to a simmer again. if they boil over open the lid a little. taste the beans – if they are soft and creamy all the way through, and can be crushed easily, then they’re ready. if not, continue cooking for ten minutes and then check again. this can take up to two hours for some beans. drain the cooked beans, reserving 480ml cooking liquid then compost the kombu and bay leaves. you will have about 560g cooked beans.

if you’re using fresh beans, boil the shelled beans with  the filtered water, kombu and bay leaves. drain beans, removing and composting the kombu and bay leaves, reserving 480ml cooking liquid.

roast the courgette:

preheat the oven to 200c. line a baking sheet with baking parchment and add courgette. drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper; toss to combine. spread out in a single layer over baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. turn courgette slices over and roast for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. remove from oven and set aside.

make the stew:

warm olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. stir in the salt and garlic and cook for anther 2-3 minutes. chop 25g of the basil leaves and add to the pot along with the thyme and oregano; cook for another minute. stir in tomatoes, raise heat and bring up to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked.

add beans and 360ml reserved cooking liquid to tomato and herb mixture. if you prefer a thicker stew, reduce amount of cooking liquid or omit it entirely. tear remaining basil leaves and add to pan. raise heat, return to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until flavours marry. add more cooking liquid as needed to get desired consistency. stir in the roasted courgette and season to taste with salt and pepper. remove from the heat, divide into bowls and serve topped with pistou and with some warm crusty bread on the side. once cool the soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

* score the tomatoes with an x at the stem end, carefully place them in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skin begins to peel back. drain and peel once cool enough to handle.