There’s a lot you can say about this soup. It’s protein-rich, it’s low-carb, it’s keto-friendly, it’s a great comfort food for a chilly fall or winter day … and on it goes. But really, there are two points you need to understand above all else: One, this chicken vegetable bean stew is very easy to make, and two, it’s absolutely delicious. Thus, it’s no surprise it’s a favorite of chef and recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating, and it quite possibly will be a go-to favorite meal for you as well.
Another thing to note about this recipe is that the stew is made from readily available ingredients you can find in any halfway decent supermarket, and what’s more, they are all quite shelf, fridge, or freezer stable. Chances are good that you have most of this stuff on hand already or at least can with a quick outing. Once you have all of your ingredients at the ready, even with some chopping, peeling, and measuring, the hands-on work here will only take you about 20 minutes, and the hour-long cook time is completely hands-off. (Well, you may wan to give the stew a stir halfway through!) If that all sounds good, let’s get cooking.
Gather the ingredients to prepare this chicken vegetable bean stew
Remember how we were just talking about the easy-to-find and easily stored stuff that goes into this stew? Well, what we meant were these ingredients. In the fridge-stable category, we have a leek, carrots, and an onion. The definite shelf-stable ingredients include canned (or boxed) cannellini beans, the chicken stock, and the red lentils. And in the freezer section of your kitchen, ideally you have some chicken thighs.
As for the hardware needed here, a good sharp knife, a peeler, a cutting board, and one good saucepan are all you need to bring this recipe together. Oh, and don’t forget to pull out your measuring cups.
"If you wanted to add spice, you could maybe add some fresh chopped chili when frying the [veggies]," says Brookes, adding, "Ginger might work well, too." Be comfortable to make the dish your own.
Cook the veggies, then cook the chicken
It seems almost cliché how many recipes start with onions cooking in oil. But just try and imagine a world without onions, and, if you can manage to truly imagine that awful existence, you’ll never take them for granted again. So to kick this recipe off, heat some oil in a large saucepan, and fry the diced onions for about five minutes, until they grow soft and fragrant.
Next, add the leek and carrot, and cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add the chicken thighs to the pan, and let them brown for about five minutes, turning the pieces of meat over halfway through. To prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan, you can add a splash of the chicken stock, and give them a stir.
Add the chicken stock, beans, and lentils, and simmer
Once the chicken has browned evenly on the outside, pour in the rest of the chicken stock (Note that if you are using a low-sodium stock, some added salt may be called for. Taste near the end of the simmering to see.) and add the cannellini beans and lentils. That’s three solid sources of protein in the forms of chicken, lentils, and beans. Not bad, right?
Now, you’re going to give everything a good stir, bring the stew to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. You can cover it loosely, leaving a bit of an open spot, and then let it cook for one hour, stirring at the halfway point.
Stir in the beans and lentils, then let it simmer
When the hour of simmering is up, remove the pan from the heat, and use a spoon to break apart the chicken thighs. They should be very tender and will be falling apart already. You can use a pair of kitchen shears to chop at remaining bits if need be, but it’s unlikely that will be necessary.
Next, add a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and serve the stew with fresh bread as an option, and one you should really consider unless you’re cutting back on carbs. Another idea? Serve it over a bed of brown rice to make a whole meal in a bowl.
As far as leftovers are concerned, Brookes notes, "It’ll keep well in the fridge for up to two days in a covered bowl. To re-serve, you can heat it through in the microwave or in a saucepan."
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
- ½ cup red lentils
- Heat some oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft.
- Add the leek and carrot, and cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the chicken thighs to the pan, and let them brown for about 5 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
- Pour in the chicken stock, and add the cannellini beans and lentils.
- Give everything a good stir, bring the stew to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer, and let it cook for 1 hour.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and use a spoon to break apart the chicken thighs. They should be very tender and falling apart.
- Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and serve with fresh bread, if desired.