Turkish-Style White Bean Stew Recipe
This Turkish-style white bean stew recipe, or Kuru Fasulye, is the perfect cool weather comfort food. White beans are simmered with onion, pepper, tomato, and (optional) meat, creating a creamy and soothing stew. Cozy up to a bowl of these beans with a hunk of fresh bread, and it’s comfort in a bowl.
On a trip to Turkey last winter, I ate this white bean stew after a morning of hiking around pre-Christian ruins in below freezing temps. Brrr! When we popped in for lunch at a local restaurant, the picture of this stew on the menu (see left) promised to warm my belly and defrost my toes. It was so good, that I sought this dish out at practically every meal during our month-long stay in Turkey. I knew I had to figure out how to make it when I returned home.
One of the best parts about this stew is its simple ingredients. The only “specialty” ingredient, which is a common pantry staple in Turkey, is red pepper paste. Not spicy, red pepper paste is basically red peppers cooked down into a paste. It is available here, or you can make your own. I made my own using the recipe in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samrin Nosrat. I have included a version of this recipe below. Red pepper paste is a great base ingredient for many recipes, and stores well. This recipe uses dried chilies, which are readily available at large supermarkets, or at a Latino market.
This white bean stew can be made with dried beans, which have been soaked overnight, or with already cooked or canned white beans. If cooking beans from the dry state, be sure not to add the tomato until the beans are soft, as acid inhibits vegetables (the beans in this case) from cooking, and you will have eternally under-cooked beans. This white bean stew can be made vegetarian by omitting the stew meat.
Turkish-Style White Bean Stew Recipe
- 1 pound dry cannellini beans
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, or a combination
- 2 large onions
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/2 pound lamb (or beef or chicken), chopped into small chunks, or omit this for vegetarian
- 2 Tablespoons red pepper paste (recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Water or beef stock
- 1 large tomato
- Rinse beans and drain. Soak the beans in water to cover 12-24 hours. Drain.
- Dice the onions and green bell pepper. In a large soup pot, heat butter and/or oil over medium heat. Cook onions and pepper in the butter until onions are golden. Add the meat to the pan and brown it. Add the soaked beans, pepper puree, and salt. Add water or stock until it just covers the beans.
- Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until beans become tender. Dice tomato, adding to pot after beans are soft.
Red Pepper Paste
- 3 ounces dried chilies, such as Chile California, New Mexico, or Guajillo
- 4 cups boiling water
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Remove tops and seeds from chilies. Rinse. If your sensitive to heat, wear gloves while performing this task.
- Soak cleaned chilies in boiling water to cover for 30-60 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to see if they are soft. If they are starting to fall apart, they are ready. If not, let soak a little longer. You may need to weigh down chilies in boiling water with a plate or bowl so they stay submerged.
- Drain soaked chilies, saving 1/4 cup water. Place in high-powered blender or food processor with olive oil and salt. Process until completely smooth, about 5 minutes. If the mixture is too thick for the machine to process, add just enough water.
- Store in a closed container in the refrigerator, covered with a thin layer of oil.