Traditional Vegetarian Spanish White Beans Stew Recipe

If you want a home-cooked, hearty dish that is easy to make and can be put together after a day at the office, then this vegetarian Spanish white beans stew will be up your alley. 

This versatile dish can be used as a filling main course or a side dish if you want a tapas-style meal. 

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Where Tapas Originated

I have always loved tapas dishes. I enjoy that you can get a small portion of different dishes, meaning not only are you not overwhelmed with a large plate of food, but you also get to try a diverse variety of foods. 

Until living in Spain, I had never really considered where the concept of tapas came from. 

The idea for tapas originates from a Spanish district called Seville, where bartenders would cover the drinks with small plates to keep insects out. Over time, some places started using the notion of placing snacks inside the dishes, anything from olives to chorizo and bread. 

Over the years, tapas have become a staple in Spanish cuisine and is enjoyed in other countries around the globe. Still, for the best, and most authentic tapas experience, Andalusia is the place to be. 

When I first arrived in Spain, I was surprised to learn that there are many places in Spain where tapas aren’t even popular. Andalusia is the home to some of the best tapas in Spain, and this Spanish bean stew is popular throughout the reach.

Vegetarian Spanish White Bean Stew
Vegetarian Spanish White Bean Stew

Spanish Tapas – Explained

If you have heard of tapas, your mind probably thinks about a collection of tiny plates of the usual dishes like garlic mushrooms, patatas bravas, and spicy chorizo. However, you can easily include dishes like the Spanish vegetarian white bean stew and other hearty dishes in any Spanish-style tapas meal. Tapas has nothing to do with the ingredients; it’s more so about the size of the plate. 

You will also find that tapas is served differently depending on where in Spain you visit. Some people like to do it as an evening snack, while others make it the main focus of their dinner. 

In restaurants and cafes, it’s often the case that there is an entire section dedicated to tapas only. The idea is to select three or four of your favorite dishes or pick more to share with your friends or family. 

spanish bean soup

Making Spanish White Bean Stew

There are a few ways you can make this Spanish bean stew, and you can certainly put your spin on it regarding ingredients. For example, I sometimes like to add chorizo to mine if I want a change from the vegetarian Spanish beans recipe. However, whichever type you choose to make, I highly recommend having a large wedge of crusty bread and butter on the side. 

This Spanish white beans recipe will serve two people as a main course, so if you wish to do it as a tapas dish or share, cut the ingredients down by half.

Suppose you’re wondering what dishes will accompany this stew as part of your tapas night. In that case, I recommend some cured meats (if you’re not vegetarian), a bowl of olives, bread served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a collection of Spanish cheeses. There are also so many great Spanish tapas recipes to pair together for an evening of traditional Spanish cuisine.

Spanish white bean stew in Seville
Eating a Spanish white bean stew in Seville Spain

What You’ll Need to Make Spanish White Bean Stew

You’ll be relieved to hear that you can make this hearty Spanish stew with low-cost ingredients that you’ll likely already have sitting in your cupboards.

Base Ingredients 

Spanish bean stew made with onion, garlic, and olive oil

Of course, when cooking any authentic Spanish recipes, there are three things you almost always need. Onions, garlic, and good quality olive oil are a staple for many dishes. 

When preparing your ingredients for this white bean stew, there are two things that I strongly recommend. First, using a garlic crusher, make sure that your garlic is minced or pureed, and second, you want your onions to be as finely diced as you can manage. This dish should not have any large pieces of onion through it. 

Seasoning, Spice, and Flavor

Two main spices give this stew its unique flavor, paprika, and cumin. The kind of paprika you use is down to personal taste. I think sweet paprika works well, but if you prefer a deeper intense flavor, then smoked paprika might be for you. 

Secondly, you will want a good quality tin of plum tomatoes, and you’ll want to crush these in your hands or with the back of a spoon when you add them to the stew. This will help break the tomatoes down as we don’t have large chunks of tomato in the finished dish. You can opt for chopped canned tomatoes, but personally, I always find they don’t have quite as much flavor. 

Next, you’ll need bay leaves. These will add a woodsy, savory flavor to your stew, but be sure to note how many you put in there, as you’ll need to remove them before serving. 

Lastly, salt. Keep the salt police away from the kitchen when preparing this dish. It helps to bind the flavors together and rounds them off; without salt, this Spanish bean soup will have a completely different taste. 

The Beans – White Beans

Spanish bean stew cooked in a dutch oven

Finally, the beans are the main protein of the dish. For this stew, you can use any white beans you like, whether it be standard white beans, butter beans, haricot beans, or cannellini beans. 

Whichever beans you opt for, the same applies to draining them into a colander before using and rinsing them well with cold water. 

You won’t need to add the beans until the end of the cooking process. This is because canned beans are already cooked, so all you want to do is bring them to temperature. If you add them to the pot too early, they will overcook and begin to break down. 

Making Spanish White Bean Stew At Home

vegetarian fabada recipe

What I love the most about this nourishing Spanish bean stew is its straightforward and quick preparation. I often make this a mid-week meal after a day at work because I can put it together in around twenty to thirty minutes. 

First, warm your pan on the stove, then drizzle in the olive oil until warm, taking care not to overheat it. (Olive oil reaches its flash point pretty quickly.) Once the oil is warm, add in your diced onions and garlic until the garlic turns golden brown, being careful not to burn. 

Next, add your spices and constantly stir until you start to get the aroma of the cumin and paprika. This is when you need to toss in your bay leaves and canned tomatoes. Leave this to warm through for around ten minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Then add in your beans, salt, and pepper and cook the white bean stew for a further ten minutes. 

After ten minutes, remove the bay leaves from the pot, and check your stew for seasoning. Depending on your preference, add more salt or pepper if required. 

Divide the stew into bowls, and serve alongside a wedge of crusty bread for dipping. I prefer to garnish my stew with some sliced chilies and fresh parsley. 

If you want to make this more of a Spanish bean soup, add a little vegetable broth. About a cup of vegetable broth will make it a bit more liquidy, turning it into a Spanish white bean soup rather than a thick stew.

Recipe for Vegetarian Spanish White Bean Stew

Yield: 4 tapas portions

Vegetarian Spanish White Bean Stew

Vegetarian Spanish White Bean Stew

This super easy-to-make vegetarian Spanish white beans stew makes a filling main course. Or it makes a great addition to an evening of Spanish tapas. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil, preferably spanish
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes
  • 15 ounces of canned white beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Heat pan and drizzle in olive oil to warm over medium-high heat. he
  1. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and stir until garlic is golden, taking care not to burn. 
  2. Add in the paprika and cumin, and stir until fragrant. 
  3. Stir in tomatoes and bay leaves and warm on medium heat for 10 minutes. 
  4. Add in canned beans, salt, and pepper, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Remove the bay leaves, and divide the stew into bowls. 
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley and chili (optional)
  7. Serve alongside warm, crusty bread.


This recipe is meant to serve 3-4 tapas-sized portions or two main courses.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 393mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g

This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.

Did you make this recipe?

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FAQs – Spanish Bean Stew Recipe

Is there a vegetarian fabada recipe?

Fabada is a meat-heavy stew with white beans. This Spanish beans recipe is the most similar version for vegetarians. If you want something in between, you can dice up some chorizo without going full meat-heavy, like a fabada.

What are Spanish white beans?

There are a variety of white beans to cook with, including navy beans, cannellini beans, northern beans, and lima beans. Cannellini beans are the most typical type of Spanish beans used in cooking.

What beans are used in Spanish cooking?

There are a variety of beans used in Spanish cooking including red kidney beans and black beans. Black beans are not as popular is Spanish cooking, though, as in Latin American cuisine. The most common bean used in Spanish cooking is probably the white bean.

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