Recipe: Bean and sweet potato stew

I’ll start by saying very clearly that I love cooking. I love food. Thinking about it, preparing it, eating it. Especially the eating it. But some days I just can’t be bothered. Or sometimes life gets in the way, time runs out, the food shopping has been put off again and there’s nothing in. Beans on toast is always an option, as is yanking something out of the freezer. But I like to have a couple of meals up my sleeve that take pretty much zero effort but give the impression that I’ve at least made an attempt.

bean and sweet potato stew

This bean and sweet potato stew was born out of one of those days and has been firmly on the menu ever since. It’s speedy, tasty and a one pot dish so there’s the added bonus of minimal washing up.

There are only a few ingredients, all of which seem to have a permanent home in my cupboards, so it can be knocked up in a matter of minutes and then left to simmer away by itself whilst I try and grab 5 minutes peace with a cuppa.

bean and sweet potato stew

If you have some chorizo lurking in the fridge then throw it in with the onions. Use whatever beans you have in, it’s not a fussy dish. Simmering reduces and thickens the sauce but also starts to break down the cannellini beans adding a different layer of texture. A touch of sugar takes away the acidity that can be there with a tomato rich sauce.

Sling some part baked baguettes in the oven towards the end and you’ve got a filling, hearty meal that costs next to nothing and doesn’t require a trip to the shop.

Bean and sweet potato stew

Yield: 4 servings

A simple but tasty one pot store cupboard meal, that’s great for the days when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking or don’t have much in!


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, I liked smoked but normal is fine
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to chunks
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 400g tin kidney beans, drained
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar, caster or granulated


  1. In a large pan heat the tablespoon of oil and gently fry the onions and garlic until the onion is soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the paprika and fry for a minute, stirring all the time. Add the sweet potatoes and fry for a few minutes, stirring to coat with the paprika and mix with the onions and garlic.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes, half fill the tin with cold water and pour that in too. Add the beans, salt and sugar and mix well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer with the lid off the pan for around 20-25 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft, the sauce has reduced and thickened and the cannellini beans have started to break down. You’ll need to stir it every so often to make sure that it’s not sticking.
  5. Serve. We like ours with warm crusty bread, usually the bake at home rolls or baguettes that are always handy to keep in the cupboard or freezer.


You can alter the beans to whatever you have in your cupboard.

A few chunks of chorizo would be excellent here. If you have any in the fridge then add with the onions and fry until it begins to release its oils.

If you don’t have sweet smoked paprika then, again, use what you have. This isn’t a dish that’s meant to make you go out and buy new ingredients; it’s a real cupboard meal.