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What is Cantabrian Bean Stew (Alubias de Cantabria) and How to Make it

Written By: Byron | March 11, 2024
two earthware dishes full of Cantabrian bean stew.

Cantabrian bean stew (Alubias de Cantabria) is a creamy bean stew that hails from the Cantabria region of Spain. The stew is traditionally made with a few simple veggies, paprika, cumin, and the most sought-after bean variety of the region: Carico montañés. The result is a rich and creamy bean stew that is vegan-friendly and can be enjoyed as is or served with fresh bread. 

Join us in discovering this classic Spanish recipe from the beautiful region of Cantabria, plus we’ll give you some easy substitution options for the traditional Carico montañés beans used — with kidney beans or pinto beans. The result is a thick, creamy bean stew that is incredibly healthy, high in plant-based protein, high in dietary fiber, and low in fat.

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Serving:

Main for 4-6

Ready in:

Around 12 hours

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Alone, Rice, or Fresh bread

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 Cantabrian Bean Stew (Alubias de Cantabria)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried kidney beans (or Carico montañés if you can source them)
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 small Italian green pepper, seeds removed, loosely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeds removed, loosely chopped
  • 1 chorizo ​​pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

Equipment needed

  • Large pot with lid
  • Pot for boiling veggie stock

Method 

  1. Soak the dried caricos beans (or kidney or pinto beans) in fresh water overnight, be sure to use a large pot or pan as they will expand (around double) in size. (Note: see cooking notes below if you want to use canned Kidney beans). The next day, rinse the beans and add them to a large pot. 
  2. In a large pot, cover dried soaked beans with stock and add the onion, garlic, chorizo ​​pepper, red and green pepper, and a splash of olive oil. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for a couple of hours. Every 30 minutes, check liquid levels and add more cold water to keep the ingredients covered.
  4. Once ready, add remaining olive oil, paprika, and cumin and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and leave stew to rest for at least 1 hour (this helps the flavors meld). 

 

Cooking Notes: 

  • Substitute caricos for red kidney beans or pinto beans. Use the same ratio (around 500 grams of dried beans for 4 people). 
  • Canned kidney beans: Use 2 cans (800g/28oz. in total) of kidney beans. Drain and rinse before use. Tinned beans are already prepared and the stew will require less cooking time. Reduce cooking time to 30-40 minutes in total. 
two earthware dishes full of Cantabrian bean stew.

What Are Carico Montañés Beans? 

The Carico montañés is the most sought-after bean variety in Cantabria and its price varies considerably depending on the area where it is grown. 

Typically, the sowing of this legume takes place in mid-May and has a relatively short growing time. The harvest typically begins in mid-September, but this can vary depending on the weather. During the hottest months, soil humidity is crucial and must be maintained to a high level. 

The legume is grown in a very small part of the Cantabria region, including the surroundings of Solares, Gama, Isla, Ampuero, Liendo, Guriezo, Cabezón de la Sal, and San Vicent. While it is the same variety of carico bean grown, there are subtle differences depending on the local climate. 

Are Carico Montañés Nutritious?

The Carico montañés is very nutritious and is considered something of a nutrient superstar! They are high in protein content (higher than kidney or other red beans). Like other legumes, Carico montañés beans are a great source of dietary fiber, various minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. 

This all translates to beans being very good for you as they can help aid weight loss, promote gut health, reduce the chance of colon-based diseases, and moderate blood sugar levels.

Ingredient Substitutions

Carico Montañés Beans

Carico montañés is a legume of exceptional quality but grown only in a very small area within Cantabria, making it in high demand with limited supply. This makes it a little treasure, but they are very (VERY) hard to source outside of Spain. 

Alas, all is not lost. While the famed carico does have some unique flavor qualities, you can get a similar result when making this recipe with other bean varieties. 

We suggest trying this recipe with kidney beans or even Mexican Pinto beans. Both are readily available in most grocery stores and are usually cheap to buy. 

The main trick with this recipe is getting the right texture, and we have made it several times with kidney beans and it works great! A trick to getting that rich and creamy texture is simple. 

Cooking Tip to get the perfect texture

Once you have left your beans to simmer on low heat for a while, remove around half of the beans and set aside. Then mash the remaining beans and veggies with a potato masher or run them through a blender to get a smooth consistency. 

Return the other beans to the mix and stir them well. The result is a lovely creamy bean stew with a delicious texture and flavor! 

Dried or Prepared Kidney Beans?

There are two kinds of kidney beans you’ll find in the shops: Dried (uncooked) kidney beans and tinned ‘prepared’ kidney beans. Either will work for this recipe so don’t worry if you don’t have time to soak beans overnight.

When using dried kidney beans, you’ll need to soak them in water for 24 hours, rinse in some fresh water, and then boil them for 45 minutes. This will allow them to soften and be suitable for cooking. The same goes for carico beans. 

If using kidney beans from the tin or jar, they will be prepared and ready for cooking so there’s no need to soak them or boil them beforehand. Simply add them to the recipe and reduce the cooking time by around half (they tend to be very soft and will become extra mushy when cooked for 2 hours) and don’t cover them with water. We suggest adjusting the cooking time to 30-40 minutes when using tinned beans.

two earthware dishes full of Cantabrian bean stew.

Seasoning and Spices

Chorizo pepper

The chorizo pepper is a variety of red pepper that is typically air-dried on strings. It is a common sight throughout Spanish villages where you’ll see vibrant strings of peppers hanging on balconies and terraces. In cuisine, the hydrated flesh is used in paste form. You can find jars of Choricero Pepper Paste sold in small jars, making it ideal for adding to recipes by the teaspoon. 

Spanish Sweet Paprika

Spanish Sweet Paprika is made from a sweet pepper called the Bola-(Capsicum annuum). The pepper has little to no heat and, once dried, is reduced to a very fine fragrant powder. 

There are two regions within Spain that grow the type of pepper used to make sweet paprika: Murcia and Extremadura. Both have the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) quality certification on their peppers.

  • Murcian Bola Pepper: Murcia paprika is made from dried and powdered red round Bola peppers. 
  • Extremadura Bola Pepper. Perhaps the most famous for its use in the paprika called Pimenton de la Vera. 

Discover more about the different types of Spanish paprika in this Guide to Hot Paprika, Smoked Paprika and Sweet Paprika

Additions

Add some sweetness to this recipe by using some diced carrots. 1 large carrot is ideal. Add it to the stew with the peppers and onion. 

Add some diced celery for some freshness and variety of texture. 2-3 celery stalks (around 1.5c cups) is plenty. Add the diced celery to the stew with the peppers too.

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 4

Amount per serving

 

Calories

390

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 8.4g

11%

Saturated Fat 1.4g

7%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 123mg

5%

Total Carbohydrate 60.1g

22%

Dietary Fiber 14.9g

53%

Total Sugars 4g

 

Protein 21.3g

 

Vitamin D 0mcg

0%

Calcium 88mg

7%

Iron 6mg

36%

Potassium 1356mg

29%

*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.

two earthware dishes full of Cantabrian bean stew.
two earthware dishes full of Cantabrian bean stew.

Cantabrian Bean Stew (Alubias de Cantabria)

Byron
Discover Cantabrian bean stew (Alubias de Cantabria), a delicious bean stew that is a classic recipe from the Cantabria region of Spain. Healthy and vegan-friendly.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Soak time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 12 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cantabria, Spain, vegan
Servings 4 Main
Calories 390 kcal

Equipment

  • Large pot with lid
  • Pot for boiling veggie stock

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried kidney beans or Carico montañés if you can source them
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 small Italian green pepper seeds removed, loosely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper seeds removed, loosely chopped
  • 1 chorizo ​​pepper optional
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Soak the dried caricos beans (or kidney or pinto beans) in fresh water overnight, be sure to use a large pot or pan as they will expand (around double) in size. (Note: see cooking notes below if you want to use canned Kidney beans). The next day, rinse the beans and add them to a large pot.
    2 cups dried kidney beans
  • In a large pot, cover dried soaked beans with stock and add the onion, garlic, chorizo ​​pepper, red and green pepper, and a splash of olive oil.
    1 spring onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 small Italian green pepper, 1 small red bell pepper, 1 chorizo ​​pepper, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for a couple of hours. Every 30 minutes, check liquid levels and add more cold water to keep the ingredients covered.
    2 cups water
  • Once ready, add remaining olive oil, paprika, and cumin and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and leave stew to rest for at least 1 hour (this helps the flavors meld).
    1 tbsp sweet paprika, 1 tbsp ground cumin, Salt and ground black pepper

Video

Notes

Cooking Notes:

  • Substitute caricos for red kidney beans or pinto beans. Use the same ratio (around 500 grams of dried beans for 4 people). 
  • Canned kidney beans: Use 2 cans (800g/28oz. in total) of kidney beans. Drain and rinse before use. Tinned beans are already prepared and the stew will require less cooking time. Reduce cooking time to 30-40 minutes in total.

Nutrition

Serving: 300gCalories: 390kcalCarbohydrates: 60.1gProtein: 21.3gFat: 8.4gSaturated Fat: 1.4gSodium: 123mgPotassium: 1356mgFiber: 14.9gSugar: 4gCalcium: 88mgIron: 6mg
Keyword alubias, alubias de cantabria, bean stew, Beans, budget, budget-friendly recipe, cantabrian bean stew, kidney beans, Vegan Stew

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