Friday, December 21, 2012

Navy Bean and Refried Bean Stew Recipe with Ham, Leeks, and Tomatoes

Navy Bean and Ham Stew with Leeks and Tomatoes
This Phase One Navy Bean and Refried Bean Stew with Ham, Leeks, and Tomatoes would be a great use for leftover holiday ham.

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  If you're having ham during the holidays, this is a great phase one soup to make with the leftover ham.  If you wanted to try this in the slow cooker, I would reduce the amount of ham stock to about 2 cups.)

When it's winter in Utah we often have a short little taste of warm weather, and then the lawn is covered with snow again and it seems like soup or stew is back on the menu. I created this recipe for a bean stew with leeks, ham, and tomatoes on a winter day when I was having guests for a soup and stew lunch. The recipe was partly inspired by an abundance of leeks and leftover ham, and the photo (which I was not crazy about) might have kept it from making an appearance on the blog, but when my nephew Jake and my brother Rand (two confirmed foodies) both raved about the flavors in this stew, I knew I should post it even if the photos didn't really show off its inner beauty.

The one thing that's most unusual about the recipe is the addition of a can of refried beans to thicken the stew, and I loved the flavor combination of pinto beans and navy beans here. Leeks are an ingredient I don't use often, so if you're put off by the idea of using them in this recipe, I'm sure you could just use more onion and skip the leeks. I also used a fancy Spanish sherry vinegar stirred in at the end, but any vinegar with a good flavor would work.

I cooked 2 cups of navy beans in the pressure cooker to get 4 cups of cooked navy beans, but you can also use 2 cans of navy beans, rinsed and drained. Any type of white beans will probably work.

Cut off the dark green ends of the leeks, then cut leeks in half lengthwise and cut into small slices.

Leeks can be gritty, so after I sliced them I rinsed the leeks well with cold water.

Start by sauteing the chopped onion and leeks in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, or until they start to soften.

Add minced garlic, dried thyme, and dried Greek oregano and saute about 2 minutes more.

Add one can petite dice tomatoes, the cooked beans, diced ham, and 3 1/2 cups ham stock and let the mixture start to simmer. (If you don't have ham stock, I'd use chicken stock with a little bit of ham flavor base added.)

Mix the other 1/2 cup of ham stock with the refried beans.

Then stir the thinned refried beans into the stew and set at a low simmer. Season generously with fresh ground black pepper.

Simmer on low for an hour or two, or until the stew has thickened and flavors have blended to your liking. When you think the stew is ready, stir in 2 T Spanish Sherry vinegar (or other vinegar of your choice) and serve hot.

Navy Bean and Refried Bean Stew with Ham, Leeks, and Tomatoes
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from leftover ham in the fridge and a few leeks hanging out in the crisper.)

4 cups cooked navy beans or small white beans or 2 cans (15 oz.) navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
2 leeks, white and light green parts, cut into thin half slices
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes
2 cups diced ham
4 cups ham stock (or use chicken stock with a little Ham Flavored Concentrate added)
1 can (16 oz.) refried pinto beans
generous amount fresh ground black pepper (do not add salt, the ham stock and ham will make it salty enough)
2 T Spanish sherry vinegar or other flavorful vinegar of your choice

To get 4 cups cooked beans either start with 2 cups dried beans and cook in pressure cooker, soak 2 cups dried beans overnight and simmer in water until beans are soft, or use 2 cans navy beans, rinsed in cold water until no more foam appears. (Using canned beans will make the stew slightly thinner because 2 cans beans is slightly less than 4 cups cooked beans.)

Dice the onion into pieces smaller than 1/2 inch. Cut off dark green ends of the leeks, cut in half lengthwise, then slice the leeks into thin half slices. Put leeks in salad spinner or small colander and rinse well with cold water and spin dry or let drain.

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot, add onions and leeks and saute until they start to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic, dried thyme, and dried Greek oregano and saute about 2 minutes more.

Add diced tomatoes and juice, cooked beans, diced ham, and 3 1/2 cups of the ham stock and let mixture come to a simmer. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup ham stock with the can of refried beans, then stir into the stew.

Season generously with fresh ground black pepper and let the mixture simmer on low for 1-2 hours, or until the stew has thickened and flavors have blended to your liking. Stir in 2 T Spanish sherry vinegar (or any vinegar you like the flavor of) and serve hot.

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South Beach Suggestions:
If making this for the South Beach Diet, it's important to use lean ham. Otherwise, everything in this recipe is a low-glycemic ingredient, making it a great option for all phases of the diet.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Bean Stews You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Crockpot Recipe for Sausage, Peppers, and Cannellini Bean Stew from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cannellini Bean and Lentil Stew with Ham from Kalyn's Kitchen
Crockpot Recipe for Black Bean Stew with Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken, and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
Fennel and White Bean Stew from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Italian Sausage and White Bean Stew from Guilty Kitchen
Pinto and Black Bean Stew from Eggs on Sunday
Savory French Bean Stew from Blog Appetit
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. This looks too good to pass up, so I'm going to try it with smoked turkey instead of the ham. Or maybe sausage. Or maybe leaving out the ham and not substituting. I think any of those variations would be delicious. (And I think the photos are great.)

  2. This looks right up my alley. I adore beans! I love the idea of the refried beans to thicken it. I'll keep this one for sure. Thanks!

  3. wow great job with a tough to photograph item... looks amazing

  4. I think we can be too hard on ourselves when we think a photo hasn't captured some aspect we can clearly see, but does it capture the spirit of the dish?

    Yes, yours does and makes me wish I had a hunk of bread and a bowl of that soup.

    You can keep your snow though.

  5. This sounds like it could be adapted for the crockpot, too. Mmmm.

  6. What a great idea to use refried beans to thicken the stew! I recently used a can of creamed corn to thicken a chicken & corn soup, which I'd imagine works similarly to the canned beans. I think your photos look great!

  7. This looks beautiful. It's finally starting to feel a little bit chilly in the Southern Hemisphere to start thinking about soup.

  8. We must have stolen your warm weather because it's been gorgeous here on the east coast. Don't tell me that means we're in for another snowstorm!

    This stew looks delicious. Refried beans are one of my favorite foods.

  9. Roberta in ToledoMarch 8, 2010 at 5:13 AM

    Amen to Neil's comment. It makes me want to grab a bowl, sit down beside the fire and slurp, slurp, slurp while the snow falls!

    The idea of refried beans as a thickener: GENIUS!

  10. This looks absolutely delicious for the yucky weather we have been having in Pittsburgh. Luckily, the past 2 days + this week are supposed to be gorgeous! Let's hope. :)

  11. You guys are all too kind about the photos! I know I can be too hard on myself, so I'm glad to know it may not look that bad. Love Lydia's idea of making it with smoked turkey too.

    Not surprised to hear that no one is anxious to get our snow. Actually today is pretty bright and sunny, even if there's still some snow on the ground.

  12. Forgot to say, to adapt for crockpot I'd use about 1 cup less ham stock, then cook on high for 2-3 hours.

  13. Great bean stew. I love such simple dishes.

  14. Dear Kalyn, Glad you posted the recipe despite your reservations about the photo. Between you and me, I look better in person too.

  15. Looks delicious, even if you may think otherwise! The addition of the beans to thicken is genius. I love my stew nice and thick!

  16. Oh what a great looking soup! So comforting and delicious.

  17. beautiful pic Kalyn! Love the blue bowl.

  18. I made this soup the other night and we all loved it at our house-delicious, filling, and the flavor was really great!

  19. Julie, thanks so much for letting me know you liked it.

  20. Great blog! I was needing a site to provide to a group of women in my neighborhood who are providing low carb meals for a mom with a new baby. Your blog hits the spot!

  21. Wendy, what a nice thing to do. I'm glad my blog can be helpful.

  22. Just wanted to let you know that I made this recipe today and it was wonderful! This was my first time cooking with leeks. Your picture instructions on cutting leeks was very helpful. I used canned Northern Beans, diced ham and all the other ingredients as listed. Loved the ease of putting it all together and will be making this again. Love your site.

  23. Anonymous, thanks so much for letting me know you liked it.

  24. check.. mad this (well sort of. Made the quick version, without leeks (but with zucchini), without canned tomatoes (but with tomato puree), without the beans (but with the refried pinto beans)

    still great :)

    (needs a touch of green)

  25. I'm chuckling. Looks like you follow recipes just like I do. My version could use some green too. Glad you liked it.

  26. I just saw this pop up on G+ and I had to jump over to get the recipe... I will be making this for my dad real soon! He loves these stews. :)

  27. I really hope your dad enjoys it; it was a big hit with my family.

  28. I just wanted you to know that I included your recipe in a leek round up. I will be pinning and tweeting it this week too.

  29. Thanks Diane; always appreciated!


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