Rustic Bean Stew With Bacon and Caramelized Onions

Recipe excerpted from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider



  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 pound yellow onions, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups cooked, drained darkish beans, such as borlotti, small red beans, or Roman beans, or black-eye peas (or three cans beans, drained, rinsed well and drained again)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Place the bacon in a large (12-inch) heavy skillet. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the fat has melted out of the bacon and the pieces are crisp and brown, about seven minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Return the pan to the heat and add the onions; toss to coat. Cover and cook until the onions are wilted and have released their juices, about five minutes.

Uncover, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes longer.

Remove half the onions to a plate and reserve.

Add the beans to the pan, along with the reserved bacon, the bay leaves, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced considerably and the mixture has a stewlike consistency, about 20 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning, peppering generously.

Spoon the beans into four shallow soup bowls. Top each serving with some of the reserved onions.

Recipe excerpted from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider (William Morrow, 2006).

Why No Numbers?

Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

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