As much as we love to make elaborate meals, this robust and dirt cheap stew is an everyday staple for us, and it blows my mind how flavorful it is considering how simple and humble it is. But that is the very essence if Norwegian cooking.
Most Norwegians, and probably “foreigners” too, don’t associate Norwegian food with vegetarian cooking. But when you look at it from a historical perspective, Norway has always been predominantly lacto-ovo vegetarian.
Scouring through old cookbooks, you’ll also find a ton of vegetarian dishes with beans, peas (like gul ertesuppe), lentils or eggs for protein (like my grandma’s nettle soup), but they’re not labeled as “vegetarian”; they were simply just normal, everyday food that people ate.
This lacto-vegetarian one pot stew takes about 30-40 minutes to make, and is heavily influenced by the near-forgotten traditional Norwegian vegetarian cuisine. If you want to make it vegan, simply ditch the dairy products and use 30 ml hazelnut oil for fat instead.
You absolutely do need to add fat into this dish because it’s otherwise extremely lean and will feel anemic and thin.
- 200 ml dried beans, cooked (or 2x 400 g canned)*
- 1.5 kg potatoes**
- 2 large leek, white and tender green parts only
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 cloves
- Fine sea salt to taste
- 100 ml sour cream, cream or whole milk
*You can use practically whatever beans you want, but brown beans is visually appealing in this dish, and totally classic in the Norwegian kitchen. We cook pre-soaked beans in our pressure cooker, so it takes only 10 minutes. If you’re in hurry, use canned beans instead.
**The perfect potato is one with high dry matter – starchy, not waxy, cause you do not want it to fall apart in the pot. In Norway, this would be Beate, Asterix or Folva. In North America perhaps Idaho, Russet or Yukon Gold.
- 40 g Real butter, cold, cut into 5-6 mm cubes
- A metric shit ton finely chopped chives
- Pickled beetroot, cubed
If using dried beans, start a day ahead and soak your dried beans overnight. Cook tender and let cool down to room temp in the liquid. Regardless if you use dried or canned beans thoroughly rinse off the cooking water, as this will colour the dish otherwise. Set aside in the colander to drip off in the sink.
Peel and dice the potatoes. You want a rustic feel to this dish, so do not cut things to finely.
Get a big pot, at least 3 liters. Add enough water so you just barely cover the potatoes. Simmer along with a pinch of fine sea salt, bay leaves and cloves until the potatoes are completely tender. Test for tenderness after 15 minutes.
Meanwhile slice the leek at a 45 degree angle. This will help separate the leek rings as you cook them. I like to push out the center of each slice to help them separate.
When the potatoes are tender, fish out the cloves, then add the milk or cream to the potato water and stir the pot to slightly break up the potatoes and have them thicken the sauce a bit, then toss in the leek and continue simmer until the leek is completely tender. Test one of the greenest rings for tenderness after 10 minutes.
When the leek is sweet and tender, add the rinsed beans, and stir to combine.
Since there are so few ingredients in this dish, you need to season to perfection. It is not supposed to taste salty, but salt is a flavor enhancer, and this dish in particular will be horribly bland without enough salt.
Continue tweaking and seasoning with the fine sea salt until you are 100% satisfied, and you have a mild yet flavorful pot simmering.
Ladle the stew into a bowl, add 4-5 cubes of cold butter (just stick’em into the stew), and finish off with a generous sprinkle of chopped chives and some pickled beetroot cubes on the side.
We like to dig in with a spoon for maximum convenience and minimum dishes to do!
Pro tip: Consider making a double batch, cause it keeps well in the fridge. Nothing beats just reheating a delicious dinner after a long day at work, or out sailing! That’s what we do 🙂