This White Bean Stew Recipe melds together our family’s history so perfectly. The Spanish influence in Cuba is present in a lot of Cuban traditional food. This recipe is a great example of that.
Want us to blow your mind? A potaje can be a soup but a soup is not necessarily a potaje. Crazy right? They are very similar. They both involve stewing vegetables and protein in a delicious flavored liquid or stock. Both bring together flavors and can really bring comfort into your day. But a potaje is just thicker. A soup doesn’t have to be thick, but a light brothy soup cannot be considered potaje.
So what makes potaje a potaje and not a soup? There are many different variations on potaje. This recipe brings all the ingredients together until they just start to fall away. Then the mashing of the beans at the end, when they are so soft creates a thickness in the broth that is filling and incredibly delicious.
In this White Bean Stew the combination of chorizo, pork products, meat and beans are the difference between just a simple soup and a hearty stew. This combination also brings rich deep flavor to your broth. If you want to make a quicker version of this, you can remove the beef all together or use small chicken pieces which will cook in half the time.
This recipe uses canned garbanzos, but we included directions if you wanted to use fresh dried beans. Either way is delicious. You can’t go wrong.
White Bean Stew (Potaje de Garbanzo)Course: SoupsCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Moderate
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
8 oz of dried and cured Spanish chorizo, (cut in thin slices)
1 pound of flank steak, cut in 2-inch pieces
8 oz salt cured pork pieces, cut in 2 inch pieces
2 oz jamon serrano, finely chopped
2 15-oz cans of garbanzo or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 large white onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
8 cups of chicken stock or bone broth
2 cups of cabbage cut into large pieces
2 packets of saffron, (bloom in 2 cups of warm water)
1 tablespoon of Abuela’s sazon
1 cup of calabaza, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
***Optional – 2-3 oz of jamon serrano scraps, which would be the
skin and fattiest parts (place them through a wooden skewer so
they stay together and you can later remove)
- Heat a large pot on medium/high heat. Add the chorizo, bay leaf, onions, olive oil, sazon and salt and pepper. Let the chorizo render and onions begin to cook.
- After 7-10 minutes your onions should be soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sautee for 2-4 minutes. Raise the heat to high. Add the saffron broth to deglaze the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
- Once the pan has deglazed, go ahead and add the meat, serrano ham pieces, salt cured pork. Cook it all together for 5 minutes. Then add the broth, beans and the skewer with serrano scraps if you are using. Bring to a boil and cook on high for 10 minutes.
- After about 10 minutes, bring your heat to simmer and cover for 1 ½ hours. The meat should be cooked and very tender. Now is a good time to give your potaje a taste and check seasoning for salt and pepper. Some beans will break down, while other stay intact. Add the potatoes, calabaza, cabbage and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until everything has softened.
- Some people love their stews really thick. I would recommend blending a cup of it once it’s done and adding it back in. This will give the stew a lot of body and creaminess. As the soup sits, the flavors will get deeper and deeper. So it’s a great to serve right away or will just get better and better as it settles.
- If You Want to Use Fresh Dried Beans
- Get your bag of 1 pound dried White beans of your choice (garbanzos, cannellini or white navy
beans), 2 bay leaves, 1 small onion (chopped)
- Rinse and sort the beans making sure there are no small stones in
your batch. In a large bowl, soak beans overnight or at least 6 hours. Drain them from this water.
- Place them in a large pot with 6 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil on high. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Skim to cloudy foam from the top and disregard.
- The beans should be soft but still hold their shape. If they need
more time give them 30 more minutes and check them again.