Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this Jacques Pepin recipe in Food & Wine recently and thought I’d try it.  It got me curious about Garbure, so I looked it up and saw that it’s basically a stew made with smoked meat and a variety of winter vegetables and served with a hearty bread – either poured over the bread or accompanied by it.  Like many peasant  dishes, there are lots of variations on how this stew is made.  My recipe builds on the versions I saw, but is not true to any one in particular.  One day I will try making this with the duck (or goose) confit I saw in many recipes, but not today! I had already done my shopping before seeing dishes with that ingredient.  In the middle of cooking this, I realized that it is a very similar in ingredients to the Old World Turkey Vegetable soup I posted in December of 2010.  The wine pairing recommendation from Jacques is a Beaujolais.  One thing that all the recipes stated was that a tradition is to pour half a glass of red wine onto the last few bites of the stew – called “a chabrot” – as a way to finish the meal.  We weren’t wowed by this :-).   (I am chuckling about my photo – one of the recipes said that this stew was definitely not photogenic!  No matter the looks – it’s a tasty bowl of comfort.)


1  1/2 cups dried cannellini or borlotti beans, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced smoked meat (ham hocks, ham or smoked turkey – I used smoked turkey)
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thoroughly washed and sliced in ¼-inch half rounds
1 medium onion, diced
1 large celery rib, cut in ¼-inch slices
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 quart chicken stock or low sodium broth
1 quart water
Bouquet garnis of 5 sprigs each parsley and thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
2 medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces
1/2 medium head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hearty bread and gruyere cheese for serving

Place the beans in a pot and add water to cover by 3 inches. Let stand overnight or use the quick soak method (bring the beans in the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand for 1-2 hours).  Drain before adding to the soup.

Coat the bottom of a large stock pot or Dutch oven with the olive oil and heat to medium high. Sauté the leek, onion, celery, carrot and meat for about 10 minutes, until soft and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two.




Add the liquid, along with the soaked beans, bouquet garnis, bay leaves and whole cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes.  Remove the bouquet garnis.



Add the potatoes, parsnip and cabbage, bring to a boil again and simmer for another 20 minutes covered until the vegetables are tender.  Remove the lid and simmer for 20-30 minutes to thicken to a stew.

Serving options:  You can serve the stew with slices of bread on the side.  Or you can toast the bread and place in the middle of the bowl and pour the stew over it.  You can toast the bread and melt the cheese on top of it.  You can place this on top of a bowl of stew or place in the bowl and pour the stew over.  It seems the most common way of serving in all the recipes I reviewed was to pour the soup over the bread (with or without the melted cheese).


Aunt Suzy says

The Swiss Chard has really been beautiful at the markets lately and it’s one of my favorite vegetables.  Really, I’m a sucker for any cooked green!  (This gorgeous bunch of Rainbow Chard is from Burning River Farm, Mill City Farmers’ Market.)  I discovered this really tasty vegetarian recipe from – big surprise! – Food & Wine, which I seem to be mentioning in every post lately.  This was another recipe that came out in my Facebook feed that screamed EASY!  And it is really easy and fast – great for a weeknight supper when you’re pressed for time.  We make this regularly and occasionally will add left-over roast chicken or sliced sausage (like andouille or chorizo) for a different spin.  A sangiovese was recommended to accompany this dish and, as usual, it’s a great match.  Margaux, what do you serve this with?  We usually have it with a salad and earthy whole grain bread of some sort.  I also like that there’s usually a little left over – makes for a great lunch.

Margaux says

I also love this!!  I’ve made is several times because it’s very tasty, easy on the budget, and literally takes me 20 minutes to throw together.  I made it again last night, and had to make it with light red kidney beans instead of the cannelini beans (which are just white kidney beans) because I forgot to buy them, and it was just as tasty, but not as pretty.  I usually serve it with a crusty bread, and last night we had it with a vinho verde because that’s what was already open, and it went well.  I make mine on the spicy side (1/2 tsp crushed red pepper), so the wine was a nice, crisp pairing to that.

Aunt Suzy says

A comment on using different beans – the original recipe said that you could use chickpeas or gigantes instead of the cannelini.  I think that any bean would be good, but the creamier the better, which is why chickpeas would be my least favorite option.  And I had to laugh when I was searching for kale recipes yesterday and saw this exact recipe except using kale!  Recently, a friend said she made this with broccoli instead of chard and loved it.  And I love the idea of serving this with a crisp white wine like Vinho Verde in the summer – really red wine is so much better when it’s cool out.  Bottom line for this stew . . . lots of options!

Swiss Chard and White Bean Stew

1-2 bunches swiss chard, depending on size (I have always just used one)

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

2 small cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

2 small or one large can diced tomatoes

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons fresh summer savory (optional)

Prepare the swiss chard by washing it, draining, then cutting out the stems and slicing or tearing the leaves into smaller pieces (maybe 2″ x 2″).  Discard the bottom parts of the stems that are thick and woody.  Slice the remainder of the stems into 1/2-inch pieces.

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with the olive oil.  Bring to medium heat and add the sliced stems and garlic.  Saute until the stems become somewhat soft. 

Turn the heat up and add the chard.  Stir constantly until the chard begins to wilt.

Add the drained and rinsed white beans and the tomatoes with their juices.  You can to use fire roasted tomatoes for a slightly smokier taste.  Trader Joe’s has fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles which are delicious, but they are already hot, so don’t add the crushed chile pepper.  (We learned that from experience!!)  Stir in the crushed chile pepper and the summer savory, if using, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. That’s all there is to it, except for maybe adding some salt and pepper.

 Aunt Suzy’s Note on the summary savory:  this was not a part of the original recipe, but the grower we bought a summer savory plant from this year told us it is a perfect herb for bean dishes of any kind.  I liked the flavor it added to this dish.