Thursday, February 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew Recipe with Tomatoes and Spinach (Gluten-Free, Can Freeze)

Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Spinach is a tasty stew that starts with dried beans cooked all day in the slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew

I wasn't really planning to post this recipe so soon, but then I realized it would be fun to follow the announcement of my new slow cooker site with a slow cooker recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen!  And this Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Spinach will become a recipe template for many more dishes in the future, since the recipe starts with dried beans that are cooked with broth, onions, tomatoes, and spices for 8-10 hours in the slow cooker until the beans are creamy and soft.

I had always heard that tomatoes will cause beans not to soften, but apparently a long cooking time will overcome that, because the beans in this dish were amazing.  I added the sausage at the very beginning with the beans, but next time if I was home I'd probably add that halfway through the cooking time so the sausage was a little firmer.  Then stir in some chopped spinach at the end and you have a delicious dinner.

I used low-fat turkey Kielbasa to keep this South Beach Diet friendly.

Cut the sausage in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moon slices.

Chop onions, mince garlic, and crush the rosemary and thyme in a mortar and pestle if you have one.

Put the dried beans, chicken stock, tomatoes, and spices in the slow cooker.  If you're not going to be home, go ahead and add the sausage at this time.  If you will be home, I would add the sausage about halfway through the cooking time.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are creamy and as soft as desired (I like them quite well done.)

When the beans are done, measure 4 cups of spinach leaves, packed into the measuring cup.

Coarsely chop the spinach leaves.

Add chopped spinach to the stew, turn the slow cooker to high, and cook about 30 minutes more.  Serve hot, with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the stew if desired.

Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Spinach
(Makes about 6 generous servings; recipe adapted slightly from Real Simple Magazine.)

I used my Crock-Pot 3-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker for this recipe.

1 lb. (2 cups) dried small white beans
1 onion, chopped into fairly small pieces
1 T finely minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes
14 oz. Kielbasa sausage, cut into half-moon slices (use low-fat turkey Kielbasa for South Beach Diet)
4 packed cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Pick over the beans, removing any broken ones, and add beans to the slow cooker.  Chop onion, mince the garlic, and crush the spices with a mortar and pestle (or meat mallet) and add to the slow cooker.  Add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes to the slow cooker and start to cook on low.  

Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, and then slice it into half-moon slices.  If you're going to be cooking this while you're not home, add the sausage now and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are nicely softened.  If you will be home, I would cook the other ingredients about 5-6 hours and then add the sausage.  It will work either way, but the sausage will be softer if you add it for the entire cooking time.

When beans are done to your liking, chop the spinach, turn the slow cooker to high, and cook about 30 minutes more.  Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on the stew if desired.

South Beach Diet Suggestions
Dried beans are a good low-glycemic choice for any phase of the South Beach Diet, and using low-fat turkey Kielbasa keeps this recipe South Beach Diet friendly.  However dried beans are limited to 1/3 to 1/2 cup serving for Phase One, so even considering the other ingredients in this stew you should have only a small bowl for Phase One.

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 Tasty Ideas with Dried White Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

White Bean Soup with Ham and Rosemary from Kalyn's Kitchen

White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley from Kalyn's Kitchen

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans from Steamy Kitchen

Pasta with Arugula and White Beans from This Week for Dinner

Baked White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Parmesan from Pinch My Salt

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. If there's more of this deliciousness to come, then I'm super excited about the new slow cooker site (I mean...I knew that only deliciousness could ensue from that)! The white bean/kielbasa mix sounds like a delicious pairing!

  2. It's sooo good, thanks so much for posting this recipe

  3. I am so excited about your new slow cooker site! This recipe is amazing and I'm going to put it on my list of meals to try. Thank you!

  4. Joanne, thanks. I am excited too. And this could easily be a vegetarian soup with the same method.

    Thanks Matt!

    BurntApple, I am excited too! Glad you like this recipe.

  5. Kielbasa is one of my favorite sausages, and I love the idea of pairing it with the white beans. Great idea!

  6. This is another wonderful slow cooker recipe, Kalyn and I know my family would really enjoy the flavors in this (anything with sausage gets their vote). I'm so excited about your slow cooker site!

  7. Andrea, this was so simple and good!

    Thanks Dara, I am so excited too.

  8. A dumb question! When I use dried beans I always have soaked them overnight. Do you use these dried or pre-soaked?


  9. Terry, the fact that these beans softened so well with all-day cooking even though they were not soaked was a pleasant surprise for me. If you want to soak the beans, the stew will cook more quickly, but for cooking all day, this turned out so well.

  10. Super excited about cooking the beans without soaking. Love skipping steps. Will this work for other kinds of beans? Red beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc?

    My market at this time of year only has fresh spinach as baby spinach in bags for salad and it is crazy expensive so I bought frozen chopped spinach in 9 oz. boxes. Should I use 1 or 2?

    Thanks so much. I love yr recipes. I'm saving them to ziplist and have put ziplist on my phone so I can shop for my ingredients. I LOVE that I'm cooking real food from real ingredients (sometimes frozen) but using modern technology. Seems kinda subversive, which I love!!!

  11. This method won't work for red beans (which need to be parboiled to be safe in the pressure cooker) but I think white beans, kidney beans, and butter beans could be cooked this way. I would probably just use one package of spinach, and thaw before you put it in the stew. Glad you are enjoying the recipes!

  12. Just made this today with small red beans (it's red kidney beans that have the toxicity issue, not small red beans...right?!) and there's an unpleasant off taste. Maybe it was the raw garlic? I was really excited about the recipe but the result is pretty crummy, in my case. Will rescue it with hot sauce and try a different recipe next time. FYI I followed the recipe except for the bean substitution, and added the kielbasa after 5 hours of cooking.

  13. Emily, most sites that caution about red beans refer to red kidney beans, although I did find this site that says all red beans should be parboiled before using them in the slow cooker. I would probably err on the side of caution.

    I don't know what would cause an off taste in this. I don't think it would be the garlic, since it's cooked all day. Mine was definitely good, but I used white beans.

  14. Made this today, and it was great. Really glad I found your site.

  15. Troy, so glad you enjoyed it!

  16. In Ukraine, \ Russia often use white beans in soups, but perdvaritelno soaked in water (preferably overnight), then the cooking of soup is reduced by several times.

    Thank you :)

  17. Fun hearing from someone in Russia, but I don't know what perdvaritelno is?

  18. Hi Kalyn!

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I was honestly looking for a great and healthy, but still easy to make, soup for me and yours hit the spot! I absolutely loved it!

    I shared my results and your links with my followers on my blog. Thanks again, and I look forward to more of your posts!

    <3 The Sparkle Queen

  19. Sparkle Queen, so glad you liked it so much, thanks!

  20. how long would you recommend cooking if using canned beans?


  21. Steve, I can't say for sure since I haven't tried it that way but I'd guess you would still want to cook it at least 4 hours on low to get the onions and tomatoes cooked and the flavors blended.

  22. I just don't know what is wrong with me, but I can never get beans to cook. I used navy beans, and the stuff has been in the slow cooker for 9 hours now, and the beans are hard as can be. So sad! Any ideas? I followed the recipe exactly, so it's not any weird modification that I tried.

  23. When beans are old (meaning, they've been on the shelf for quite a while either at home or at the store) they can take forever to soften. That would be my guess.

  24. made this last night. added some cayenne for a little extra kick. turned out great! didn't even need to add any salt. the kielbasa had more than enough.


  25. I had planned to make this a slow cooker meal as the recipe is written but I had some timing issues so I made a quick cook version instead. I used a can of rinsed and drained white beans instead of dry. I sauted the onion and garlic with the sausages and a little red pepper flakes to spice it up. Then I added the beans and other ingredients listed and a little smoked paprika. In under a half hour I had a delicious and hearty soup. I will definitely keep this recipe in my "quick meals" repetoire. Thanks!

  26. So I seen this stew about two weeks ago and been dying to make it. I made two versions out of one pot. Started out in the cooker I used canned beans and cooked it on high for 3 hrs while I was at work. Than came home and added frozen spinach about 2 hand fulls and used chives oregano and curry instead of the other spices. After about another hour I separated half the stew and put it in just another pot, than threw in a about a cup of half and half and some more curry and turned in to a version of Zuppa Toscana. It was delicious both ways the original for me and creamy for my husband <3. Making this my number one soup recipe...

  27. I've been loving your recipes for quite some time, Kalyn! Thank you for posting them...they are perfect for my low carb diet {your chicken fajitas are in my crock pot smelling good right NOW}!

    Wanted you to know that this recipe looks amazing. I just put together a round-up of great cooler weather soups & stews for slow cookers and had to include this! Hope you can stop by!

    Thanks again for all the time you put into this great site!


  28. Kristi, so glad you're enjoying the recipes and thanks for featuring my soup!

  29. Kiełbasa + white beans is really really common here in Poland :).
    Perfect fall soup!


  30. I made this recipe last night and LOVVVVED it. I wasn't able to find turkey keilbasa so i used chicken instead. I stir fired the chopped onion till it was soft and added the chopped keilbasa to it and browned. I added 1 1/2 cans of white beans instead of dried. and pureed 1/2 can to slightly thicken the stew. It turned out AMAZING dinner was ready in half hour!! woohooooooo

  31. Sara, thanks for sharing your tips for adapting this for canned beans!

  32. Question: are the measurements in this recipe intended for a standard sized slow cooker and if so should I assume I should just cut the recipe in half? I just purchased a small, personal size slow cooker (the actual size escapes me but it's significantly smaller than the average.

  33. JM, duh. I should have said the size; will edit! This was made in a 3.5 quart slow cooker, but as you can see it's just a little over half full. You should be able to check the size on the bottom of yours and adjust accordingly. (And thanks for catching that!)

  34. Hi!

    This recipe sounds so delicious! We just started a "Soup Club" at my office and I think I will try this for when my turn comes around.

    Question - I need to start cooking in the morning (day of) to serve by lunchtime. Can I cook on high for 4-5 hours instead? Or can I cook on low for 4ish hours the night before, refrigerate overnight, and resume cooking on low for an addition 4-5 hours the next morning?

    Thanks again! Can't wait to try! - Talia

  35. Love the idea of a soup club! I can only guess, since I haven't done it that way but I'm thinking you could cook it on high with a few changes. I would definitely pre-soak the beans the night before if you're cooking for a shorter time. I'd also add the sausage part way through the cooking as I mentioned, rather than adding it at the beginning.

    Another option that might be even easier for cooking at the office is to use canned beans (about 3 cans) and cook the sausage, beans, and tomatoes on high for about hours before adding the spinach. That might not be quite as good as fresh cooked beans, but still pretty good I bet.

    Your idea of cooking partway and refrigerating is not something I'd recommend because the soup would be so hot, I worry it would not cool down to a safe temperature in the fridge. But if you're careful about cooling it down, that would probably work too.

  36. I use sausage in my soups all the time and I always slice and brown the sausage first. I cook it until it's nice and dark. I came up with this idea because I was tired of "soggy" sausage. It also provides some excellent pan drippings that add extra flavor! I also believe that the extra "fat" helps the dried beans soften quicker. However, I don't use a slow cooker since I am now staying home all day...but I tested my theory about the fat and it always helped my beans soften quicker.

  37. Tracee, browning the sausage can never be bad, in my opinion.

  38. Thanks Kalyn. I found your blog and this recipe on Pinterest and just made this soup today. It is so hearty and filling, just like a Ham and Bean soup.
    Do you think this soup would freeze well? I had one bowl and i'm stuffed so I'd like to try to freeze some to save for later!
    Thank you!


  39. Sarah, I haven't tried freezing this but I do think it will freeze well. The spinach will get a little softer after it's frozen, but I still think it will be ok.

  40. I have made this soup now 3 times since finding it two months ago. My husband requests it every week and now people at his work are requesting it when they visit for dinner!!! Such a hit, my 3 year old LOVES it too!!! Thank you!

  41. Wow! Made this tonight and it was AMAZING!! I added Hungarian hot paprika and it gave a nice kick. ;-) The beans came out perfect and are delicious :) definitely a keeper!!

  42. Shibagurl, I think adding paprika is a brilliant idea! So glad you enjoyed it.

  43. How long would you cook this on the stove? Thanks!

  44. Heather I really couldn't say how long this would take on the stove without trying it; white beans are really variable in cooking time due to how old the beans are.

  45. I made this and put in the kielbasa sausage for the full 8hr cook time. The sausage turned out kind of brown... did I ruin the dish? I have not tasted it yet... If the kielbasa is over done and tastes bad can i cook up some more kielbasa and add to the beans etc..?

  46. I'd certainly taste it to see how the sausage tastes. Usually for me it's more of a texture issue; when it cooks the whole time it loses texture. If you don't like it when you taste it, I'd cook new sausage and then just cook in the slow cooker long enough to warm it through with the beans.

  47. Ok. Thank you Kalyn. Kind of what I was hoping to hear.

  48. I've been intending to make this for ages. I love soup and I love beans. The problem is, I live in Phoenix and with the heat here, hot soup isn't always something the family wants. I finally made this today (it's only 84 this early Nov. afternoon) and have been pretesting. I only had mixed beans from Sprouts on hand- the combination includes small red, white, black, pinto and split peas. I am planning on a bit less spinach because I know my family. Also, cooked on stovetop. Tastes good!

  49. Do I need to drain the tomatoes before adding to the crockpot or does the tomato juice go in it too?

    1. The tomatoes don't have to be drained, but you can drain them if you prefer a thicker soup.

  50. In the crock pot as we speak! Cant wait to try when i get home from work!


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