Certain times of year beg for certain comforts. When mother nature cruelly ambushes us with frigid, sub-zero temperatures, a warm and hearty meal will always provide a delicious refuge from the cold. Keeping that in mind, I felt a moral imperative to share with you a recipe that will leave your family or dinner guests wholly satisfied and one which will really ‘stick to your ribs’. Hmm, I never really understood that idiom, but it is definitely an apt metaphor for this hearty and filling stew. It is as delicious as the weather is cold and is the perfect stew to enjoy along with crusty french bread, by a roaring log fire.
The Bean Roster: Top row: light red kidney beans, black beans, green whole peas | Middle row: green whole lentils, black eye beans, small red beans | Bottom row: red split lentils, pinto beans, small white beans.
I happened to use 9 types of beans and lentils for this stew; largely because I picked up a container of 9 varieties of mixed beans from my local Costco store – it could have just as easily been called 5-bean stew if my pantry wasn’t so handsomely stocked! If you have membership at Costco, you will be doing your family a great disservice if you don’t pick up a container of these. They are the perfect medley of beans and have a variety of uses beyond this recipe. If you don’t happen to have 9 varieties of dried beans taking up space in your pantry, you can simply use any combination of the above, so long as they total 1 cup of dried beans for the recipe. [Note: the 1 cup of dried beans will plump up to 3 cups after soaking] I decided not to add a whole lot of meat in this recipe as I served it as a second course in a meal which had a protein-heavy third course, but the recipe can be varied to add chicken, beef or veal. On the other hand, this recipe is not entirely vegetarian either. It’s a ‘meat stew’ by virtue of the beef broth which is used, as well as the turkey bacon.