Rustic Red Bean Stew
from New York Times • Serves 6
1 pound (2 1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced small
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon natural cane sugar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, or a combination of parsley and dill
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt for topping
Drain and rinse beans. Place the beans and 2 ½ quarts water in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onions, carrots and peppers. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 2 of the garlic cloves and continue to cook for another minute until garlic is fragrant. Season with a little salt, add another tablespoon of oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the vegetables are well coated with paprika and the mixture is aromatic. Add a ladleful of simmering water from the beans to the pan, stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to deglaze, then stir this mixture into the beans. Add the tomato paste and bay leaf, cover and simmer 1 hour.
Add the oregano, the remaining garlic cloves, salt to taste, cayenne, vinegar and sugar, and continue to simmer for another hour. The beans should be thoroughly tender and the broth thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust salt, and add more cayenne if desired. For a thicker stew, strain out 1 heaped cup of beans with a little liquid and purée. Stir back into the stew.
Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve over noodles or thick slices of country bread, topping each portion with a large dollop of drained yogurt.