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Vegan Butter Bean Stew

with a Rich Spanish-Style Sofrito Sauce

Written By: Byron | June 28, 2024
A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

Vegan Butter bean stew with a rich Spanish-style sofrito sauce is an easy Spanish stew recipe that pulls influence from traditional Potajes and Pucheros recipes. Large butter beans (also known as Lima beans) are simmered down until tender and absorb plenty of the flavors from the veggies and spices used.

We opted for dried beans that require rehydrating but you could easily use canned beans as a convenient alternative. The butter beans are incredible when they are cooked until soft and almost falling apart so we suggest cooking them for over 1 hour. This recipe makes 6 main meal servings and is of course 100% vegan and super budget-friendly!

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Serving:

Main for 6

Ready in:

10 hours, 20 minutes

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Good as is

Why We Love This Vegan Butter Bean Stew

  • Affordable pantry staple ingredients
  • Vegan-friendly 
  • Super easy to make
  • Use canned beans (no soaking or prep)
  • High in fiber, high in protein
  • Low in fat (saturated fats) 
  • Around 230 kcal per 200g serving
  • Ideal for meal prep, batch cooking

Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes to delicious main meals, to incredible Spanish dessert options too.

How to Make Vegan Butter Bean Stew

This bean stew recipe is very easy to make and once all the ingredients are added to the pot, it only requires a stir now and then to ensure the flavors meld together. It does take over an hour for the beans to become tender (and longer is better) so allow plenty of time for making this recipe. 

Ingredients

  • 500g dried butter beans (Lima beans)
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 white onions, diced fine
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, grated and skin removed
  • 2 green Italian peppers, diced fine
  • 3 medium-sized carrots, diced fine
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (we love La Dalia Spanish Sweet smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano (or rosemary)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1-liter vegetable stock (low-sodium stock is preferred)
  • Handful of fresh chopped parsley (to serve)

Equipment needed

  • Box grater
  • 1 large pot with lid
  • 1 medium-sized pot with lid (for heating the stock)
  • Large wooden spoon or ladle
  • Sharp kitchen knife and cutting board
    A large bowl of white butter beans sits beside some spices and vegetables.

    Method

    Step 1 – Prepare Dried Beans

    • Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water around 2 inches (5cm) above the beans. The beans will expand to around double their size so ensure they are covered with water at all times. 
    • Leave the beans to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours. (see notes in the article on a ‘quick soak’ technique). 
    • Strain off water and add to a large pot with new freshwater.
    • Boil beans uncovered for at least 1 hour. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and ensure beans are submerged in boiling water at all times. 
    • Strain off the water and rinse the beans. Set aside beans for use later. 

    Step 2 – Simmer Onions and Prep Other Veg

    • Finely dice the two onions and add to a large pot with the olive oil. Simmer on medium heat for around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the other veggies and heat the stock/broth. 

    Step 3 – Add Veggies, Spices, and Garlic

    • Once the onion is golden, increase heat to high and add the diced green pepper and carrot, and mix well. 
    • Allow to cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic and grated tomato pulp. 
    • Once the tomato is added, reduce heat to medium and give everything a good stir, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. 

    Step 4 – Add beans and stock and simmer

    • On medium heat, add the spices and a ladle or two of the heated stock. 
    • Mix through, then add the rehydrated beans. 
    • Cover beans with remaining stock and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for around 1 hour (the longer the better).

    Cooking Notes:

    • 1 hour should leave the beans tender, if you want a softer, creamer texture, cook the beans for around 1.5 to 2 hours. They should be soft enough to gently mash in the pot. 
    • Avoid adding acidic ingredients (like tomatoes or vinegar) or salt at the beginning of the cooking process, as they can toughen the beans. Add them towards the end of the cooking time.
    • You can add aromatics like garlic, onions, bay leaves, or herbs to the cooking water to infuse the beans with additional flavor.
    • Could canned beans be used? Yes, and this saves plenty of time. Simply rinse canned beans and they are ready to add to the stew (skip step 1 of the instructions). 
    A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

    Origin of Butter Beans

    Butter beans, also known as lima beans (‘Allubias Garrofon’ or ‘judías de mantec’a in Spanish), have an interesting history and origin. As their name suggests, they are not a native to Spain. They are native to the Americas and have been cultivated for thousands of years in South America (Andean region now known as modern-day Peru) and Central America (Mesoamerican region).

    The name “lima bean” is derived from the capital city of Peru, Lima, reflecting the bean’s association with the Andean region.

    From their centers of origin, lima beans spread throughout the Americas. They were a staple in the diets of many indigenous cultures. European explorers and colonizers encountered lima beans and subsequently introduced them to Europe and other parts of the world.

    Nowadays, butter beans are grown in many parts of the world, including the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are valued for their creamy texture and mild flavor, making them a popular ingredient in various cuisines.

    Are Butter beans used in Spanish cuisine?

    Yes, butter beans, known as “judías de manteca” or “habas” in Spanish, are indeed used in Spanish cuisine and have been a staple in many traditional Spanish recipes for over 500 years. They are incorporated into a variety of traditional dishes across different regions of Spain. Here are just a few examples of how butter beans are used in Spanish cuisine:

    1. Paella: Yep, that’s right! The paella, Spain’s most famous dish uses butter beans. The classic Paella Valencia/Paella Valenciana recipe uses a combination of thin green beans and larger white butter beans to give it a distinctive flavor and texture. 
    2. Fabada Asturiana: This is one of the most famous Spanish dishes that features large white beans similar to butter beans. While traditional fabada often uses “fabes de la Granja,” a specific variety of large white bean, butter beans can be used as a substitute. This rich and hearty bean stew is from the Asturias region and typically includes chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), and pork.
    3. Potajes and Pucheros: These are traditional Spanish stews and casseroles that often feature beans. Butter beans can be found in various regional recipes, combined with vegetables, meats, or seafood. They provide a creamy texture and absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.
    4. Ensalada de Judías: Butter beans can be used in cold bean salads (check out our Mediterranean white bean salad recipe here), often combined with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and olives, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. These salads are especially popular in the summer months.
    5. Cocido Madrileño: This is a traditional chickpea-based stew from Madrid, but variations of cocido in different regions of Spain sometimes include butter beans along with chickpeas. It’s a hearty dish that often includes various meats, sausages, and vegetables.
    6. Vegetable and Bean Soups: Butter beans are used in various vegetable and bean soups across Spain. They are valued for their creamy consistency and ability to blend well with a variety of vegetables and seasonings.

    While butter beans might not be as iconic as some other beans in Spanish cuisine, they are certainly utilized and appreciated in a variety of regional dishes, adding to the rich tapestry of flavors in Spanish cooking.

    A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

    How to Prepare Dried Butter Beans

    dried butter beans require preparation before cooking to ensure they are tender and digestible. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare dried butter beans:

    1. Sorting and Rinsing:
      • Spread out the dried beans on a clean surface and check for any small stones, debris, or damaged beans. Discard any that look off.
      • Discard any beans that are not white or have dark blemishes (this could be a sign of rot). 
      • Place the beans in a colander and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dust or impurities.
    2. Soaking:
      • Soak Overnight: Place the rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Use about three times the volume of water to beans. Let them soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.
      • Quick Soak: If you don’t have time for an overnight soak, you can use the quick soak method. Place the beans in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let them soak for 1 hour.
    3. Draining and Rinsing:
      • After soaking, drain the beans and rinse them with fresh water.
    4. Cooking:
      • Place the soaked beans in a large pot and cover them with fresh water. Use about 3-4 cups of water for every cup of beans.
      • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
      • Simmer the beans gently, uncovered or partially covered, until they are tender. This usually takes about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the size and age of the beans.
      • Check the beans occasionally and add more water if needed to keep them submerged.
    5. Draining:
      • Once the beans are tender, drain them if necessary and use them in your recipe.

    Following these steps will ensure that your dried butter beans are properly prepared and ready to be used in various dishes.

    A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

    Can Tinned Butter Beans Be Used Instead?

    Yes absolutely, tinned beans can be used and they are a convenient option. Beans you buy from the supermarket in the can or jar are usually prepared and ready for cooking, they do not require any soaking or prep work before they can be used. This is a huge time-saving and a good option if you’re keen to make this recipe tonight for dinner! 

    Canned Butter beans are available in most decent supermarkets for a few bucks. They’re cheap and still contain plenty of nutrients found in their dried counterparts. 

    Canned Butter Beans vs Dried Butter Beans: Which are Healthier?

    When comparing tinned (canned) butter beans and dried butter beans, the health benefits can vary based on several factors including nutritional content, additives, and preparation methods. Be mindful that canned beans of any kind can contain preservatives and additives such as sodium (salt) to give them a longer shelf life. Of course, dried beans do not contain these additives. 

    Nutritional Value:

    • Both dried and canned beans are nutritious, providing protein, fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins), and minerals (such as iron, magnesium, and potassium).

    Lower Sodium:

    • Dried Beans: Typically have lower sodium content unless salt is added during cooking.
    • Canned Beans: Often contain added salt. Rinsing canned beans can reduce sodium content by about 40%.

    Convenience vs. Customization:

    • Canned Beans: Offer convenience and are a good option for quick meals.
    • Dried Beans: Allow for more customization in flavor and nutritional control but require more preparation time.

    Both tinned and dried butter beans can be part of a healthy diet. If you prioritize convenience and are mindful of sodium and additives, choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added canned beans is a good option. If you prefer to control all aspects of preparation and avoid additives, dried beans are the better choice.

    Butter Bean Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts

    Good news! Butter bean stew is a fantastic vegan-friendly recipe loaded with healthy nutrients that the body needs. 

    Ingredients and Their Contributions

    • Butter Beans: Provide the bulk of the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
    • Vegetables (like tomatoes, carrots, onions, and spinach): Add vitamins (A, C, K), minerals, and antioxidants.
    • Olive Oil: Adds healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
    • Herbs and Spices (like garlic, rosemary, thyme): Contribute antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and additional nutrients.

    Health Benefits of Butter Beans

    1. High in Protein:
      • Butter beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, which is essential for muscle repair, growth, and overall body function.
    2. Rich in Dietary Fiber:
      • High fiber content aids in digestion, helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and supports cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol.
    3. Packed with Vitamins and Minerals:
      • Vitamins: Butter beans provide essential vitamins such as folate (B9), which is important for DNA synthesis and repair, and other B vitamins like B1 (thiamine) and B6.
      • Minerals: They are rich in iron (important for blood health), magnesium (essential for muscle and nerve function), potassium (crucial for heart health), and zinc (supports immune function).
    4. Low in Fat:
      • Butter bean stew is typically low in fat, particularly saturated fat, making it a heart-healthy option.
    5. Antioxidant Properties:
      • The stew can include ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, which are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation.
    6. Supports Weight Management:
      • The high fiber and protein content promotes satiety, helping to control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake.
    7. Stabilizes Blood Sugar:
      • The complex carbohydrates in butter beans release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size: 200g

    Servings: 6

    Amount per serving

     

    Calories

    230

    % Daily Value*

    Total Fat 10g

    13%

    Saturated Fat 2.8g

    14%

    Cholesterol 0mg

    0%

    Sodium 964mg

    42%

    Total Carbohydrate 33g

    12%

    Dietary Fiber 8.4g

    30%

    Total Sugars 8.7g

     

    Protein 8.4g

     

    Vitamin D 0mcg

    0%

    Calcium 88mg

    7%

    Iron 5mg

    28%

    Potassium 861mg

    18%

    *The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

    A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

    Vegan Butter Bean Stew

    Byron
    Vegan Butter bean stew with a rich Spanish-style sofrito sauce is an easy Spanish stew recipe that pulls influence from traditional Potajes and Pucheros recipes. Large butter beans (also known as Lima beans) are simmered down until tender and absorb plenty of the flavors from the veggies and spices used.
    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 2 hours
    Soak beans 8 hours
    Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
    Course Main Course, vegan, vegetarian
    Cuisine Mediterranean, Spain, vegan
    Servings 6 Main
    Calories 230 kcal

    Equipment

    • Box grater
    • 1 Large pot with lid
    • 1 medium-sized pot with lid (for heating the stock)
    • Large wooden spoon or ladle
    • Sharp kitchen knife and Cutting board

    Ingredients

    • 500 g dried butter beans Lima beans
    • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 2 white onions diced fine
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
    • 3 tomatoes grated and skin removed
    • 2 green Italian peppers diced fine
    • 3 medium-sized carrots diced fine
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika we love La Dalia Spanish Sweet smoked paprika
    • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano or rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper or to taste
    • 1- liter vegetable stock low-sodium stock is preferred
    • Handful of fresh chopped parsley to serve

    Instructions
     

    Step 1 - Prepare Dried Beans

    • Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water around 2 inches (5cm) above the beans. The beans will expand to around double their size so ensure they are covered with water at all times.
      500 g dried butter beans
    • Leave the beans to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours. (see notes in the article on a ‘quick soak’ technique).
    • Strain off water and add to a large pot with new freshwater.
    • Boil beans uncovered for at least 1 hour. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and ensure beans are submerged in boiling water at all times.
    • Strain off the water and rinse the beans. Set aside beans for use later.

    Step 2 - Simmer Onions and Prep Other Veg

    • Finely dice the two onions and add to a large pot with the olive oil. Simmer on medium heat for around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the other veggies and heat the stock/broth.
      3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 white onions

    Step 3 - Add Veggies, Spices, and Garlic

    • Once the onion is golden, increase heat to high and add the diced green pepper and carrot, and mix well.
      2 green Italian peppers, 3 medium-sized carrots
    • Allow to cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic and grated tomato pulp.
      4-5 cloves of garlic, 3 tomatoes
    • Once the tomato is added, reduce heat to medium and give everything a good stir, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

    Step 4 - Add beans and stock and simmer

    • On medium heat, add the spices and a ladle or two of the heated stock.
      1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • Mix through, then add the rehydrated beans.
    • Cover beans with remaining stock and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for around 1 hour (the longer the better). garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
      1- liter vegetable stock, Handful of fresh chopped parsley

    Video

    Notes

    Cooking Notes:

    • Use a ratio of 1 cup beans to 3 cups of water when soaking beans overnight. 
    • 1 hour should leave the beans tender, if you want a softer, creamer texture, cook the beans for around 1.5 to 2 hours. They should be soft enough to gently mash in the pot. 
    • Avoid adding acidic ingredients (like tomatoes or vinegar) or salt at the beginning of the cooking process, as they can toughen the beans. Add them towards the end of the cooking time.
    • You can add aromatics like garlic, onions, bay leaves, or herbs to the cooking water to infuse the beans with additional flavor.
    • Could canned beans be used? Yes, and this saves plenty of time. Simply rinse canned beans and they are ready to add to the stew (skip step 1 of the instructions).
    Keyword bean stew, Beans, Butter beans, easy stew, vegan meal, Vegan Stew, white beans
    A bowl of vegan butter bean stew garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

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