Spicy White Bean Stew with Arugula

When the weather changes, I start to really crave a big pot of beans. It’s really the most comforting thing I can think of (as long as there’s a bit of crusty bread).

Pot of beans or stew?

In this recipe, I’m toeing the line on whether or not this is just a pot of beans or a simple fall bean stew. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because it’s delicious either way! If you wanted to bulk this up a bit more, you could add vegetables (sweet potato, squash) and/or greens (kale, chard).

White Beans + alternatives

Originally I wanted to use larger white beans to really make the beans known but what I realized it’s much nicer with the smaller beans. You could use any of the different white beans- it’s really up to you.

Also, if you wanted to speed this up, you could use canned beans. Simply drain the beans and add to a pot with enough broth to cover then heat the beans as the recipe states.

Light image with a bowl of tomato bean stew with arugula on top on a white background.

The Chili Paste

When it comes to the chili paste, I always have a jar of sambal oelek and garlic-chili paste on hand. As I mention in the notes section of the recipe, you can use whatever your favorite chili paste is- just know the heat level so you don’t make this meal too spicy! A bit of harissa paste could work.

Also, in a pinch, you could use crushed red pepper. Toast it in the ghee right before you add the spices and tomato paste. Start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. If you don’t like spice at all, swap the chili paste for a couple teaspoons smoked paprika.

What to serve it with

One of the reasons I like keeping this straight forward is it leaves room for some side dishes. You could serve up stew with a side of roasted sweet potatoes, twice-baked squash, or some simple garlicky greens.


Close-up image of white beans in a tomato broth with arugula and feta on top.

Spicy White Bean Stew with Arugula




1 cup dried great northern beans

4 to 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

4 cloves garlic, peeled

Chili Paste Mix

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoon ghee

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon to 4 teaspoons chili paste (see note)


2 to 3 cups baby arugula

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pinch of flaky salt

Feta, for serving

Bread, for serving


  • To start, rinse the dried white beans, place in a pot, and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Alternatively, combine the dried beans with water, bring to a boil for one minute, cover, and turn off the heat. Let quick soak for one hour.
  • After soaking, drain and return to the pot. Add 4 cups of the broth and the four garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender; 40 to 50 minutes. If the broth level no longer covers the beans, add more as needed.
  • While the beans cook, heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet. Shake the pan often until the spices are fragrant; just a minute or two. Grind the spices and set aside. Alternatively, use equal amounts of ground spices.
  • Return the small pan to medium heat and add the ghee followed by the spices, tomato pasta, and chili paste (see note). Heat and whisk until the mixture is hot. 
  • When the beans are tender and the broth level should be barely covering the beans. Stir in chili paste mixture and heat for a few minutes longer. Taste and adjust salt/chili paste levels as desired.
  • In a small bowl, toss together the arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Divide the beans into 4 bowls and top with the arugula. Sprinkle with a bit of feta and serve with the bread.




When it comes to the chili paste, I tend to use a garlic-chili paste or sambal oelek. When I use either of these, I use up to the 4 teaspoons of chili paste. Use whichever chili paste you like, just know the heat level of each and what you’d like to end up with as a heat level. You can always add more chili paste to the overall bean dish. 


Close-up image of a piece of bread topped with beans in a red broth.