Pic of Guy Watson's French bus bean stew

Guy Watson's French bus bean stew

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Vegetarian mains

Guy Watson's French bus bean stew

Main Serves 4 1h 20 min
'When on the farm in the French Vendée, I take up residence in my 1974, scruffy but much loved Bristol bus, parking beside the lake. However busy we are, everyone takes a civilised hour and a half for lunch, allowing time for a proper meal, a nap and a swim before returning to the fields. During my time there, I have become a fan of two of the local beans: coco haricot and mogettes. I use them to make huge stews which I keep going for days by boiling daily, sometimes adding the leftovers from supper. Like so many stews, they just keep getting better as time passes. The recipe is a bit vague, employing whatever is in season, but it goes something like this...' (Guy Watson)


  • 500g beans
  • whole garlic bulb, cut in ½ across cloves
  • few sprigs thyme or rosemary
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 onions (or shallot equivalent), roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 4 peppers (optional)
  • 4 celery sticks (optional)
  • smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
Image of Guy Watson's French bus bean stew


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 1h 10 min
  • Step 1

    Soak the beans overnight. Discard the water and rinse well.
  • Step 2

    Add to a pan with enough fresh water to cover (about 3 inches). Gently boil the beans until soft for about an hour, checking from time to time that they are not going dry. Flavour is improved by the addition of a bulb of garlic cut in half across the cloves, rosemary and/or thyme, 10 peppercorns and a stick of celery if available (none are essential - use all or some).
  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, gently fry the onions or shallots and the garlic.
  • Step 4

    Add chopped peppers or celery if you have them to hand. For a heartier stew, add chunks of chorizo, local saucisson or any leftover meat scraps. Season and add smoked paprika if you like. If you want a tomato based stew then add them now (fresh or tinned) perhaps with some paste.
  • Step 5

    Drain the beans, retaining the liquid to add back to your stew or to use as a stock. Combine the beans with the rest of the stew. Add back the liquid as required, heat through and check the seasoning.
  • Step 6

    Enjoy with crusty bread spread with plenty of sweet butter and a glass of red wine. Definitely better the next day and even better the day after that. The beans start disintegrating but the dish will be none the worse. (Refrigeration in the bus is dodgy.)

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