Autumn Vegetable Stew (Poroto Granados)

It had to happen. In fact, my family is wondering what took me so long to post my first ‘bean’ recipe. It is a well known fact that I’m fond of beans of all types and tend to throw them into stews and casseroles even when they don't figure in the recipe. Alex was offended to find beans in her lasagne at one meal, so I’ve not tried that trick again. But I love beans, and their nutritive benefits are impressive.

The original recipe for this came from a superb cook, my dear friend Lyn. She makes it all look ridiculously easy, can feed hordes at a moment’s notice with seemingly no effort (claiming how simple it is, and perhaps it is for her) and she doesn’t flinch when she has several days on the trot of a half a dozen or more around her table at every meal. However, she’s aware of my culinary limitations and has kindly produced many straightforward and wonderful recipes which are now firm favourites in my permanent collection. Perhaps it’s cheating, slightly, to include this one here since it’s not, strictly speaking, a brand new effort for 2012. However, this version is new as it’s a variation on Lyn’s original handwritten contribution to my files. The master chef didn’t give precise amounts for every ingredient. She knows exactly how much of each so on my first run, I had to take (as it turned out) a good guess. Now I will write it down in detail and add the few variations I made but, essentially this is her recipe with my light stamp on it.

Poroto Granados is, basically, a Chilean stew, popular in late summer or early autumn when the harvest is gathered and the tomatoes, corn and squash are at their best. The cranberry bean is used in Chile but since my local supermarket doesn’t extend quite that far (no doubt they would be available in a specialty shop in London) I’ve used borlotti, as those, according to my research, is what is closest to the shape, size, colour and texture of the cranberry bean.

If you like beans, you should like this. I think the smoked paprika is what makes it for me. And I submit it with grateful thanks to Lyn for her inspiration.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (very important for the flavour)
handful of oregano and marjoram, chopped, or 1 tsp each, dried
400g tin borlotti beans, drained and well rinsed
1 litre vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
750g squash, such as butternut, cut into 2cm chunks
200g French beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces (frozen works equally well)
200g frozen corn or tin of sweet corn, drained
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté gently for about 10 minutes. Add the paprika, marjoram and half the oregano. Cook for another few minutes.

Add beans, stock and bay leaf, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes until the squash is just tender. Add the French beans and corn kernels and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf.

Season well – and stir in the remaining oregano.

Go on, get organised and, earlier in the day, make some crusty brown bread to serve with this. I did - well, in a machine of course! Failing that, buy some or use what you’ve got on hand.

Serves 4.

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