Spanish Bean Stew – Potaje de Alubias

Spanish vegan bean stew in a bowl


Oh my goodness I’m in love with vegan potaje! This Spanish bean stew recipe is one of those ‘throw-it-together-in-a-pan’ type of things and hey-presto your meal is ready. Not only ready, but yummmm delicious. And it’s truly easy to make too.

Traditional food in Andalusia has a strong roots in ‘spoon food’, as they call it around here (comida de cuchara). Another traditional recipe is the cazuela de habas, a broad bean comida de cuchara from Andalusia, and right up there at the top of the list is this famously popular potaje, which can be made from beans or chickpeas and with or without rice added.

Bowl of bean stew - potaje


You can change absolutely anything in this potaje, or bean stew recipe. The vegetables can be switched for whatever you have available or the ones you prefer, and the beans could be swapped for chickpeas. I used white beans and whole grain brown rice.

You can use a different rice, but a round grain will be better than a long grain, so paella rice or risotto rice should do the trick just fine. I like the whole grain because it adds that slight nuttiness and a little more bite than white rice. Not to mention that it’s also healthier for you.

All the preparation takes place at the beginning, so once the veggies and other ingredients are all in the pan you can go away and leave it for 20 minute to cook on its own. The only thing you may need to do, is to check the seasoning.

So, how to make it? Easy! Finely chop an onion and plenty of garlic. Add to a pan with some extra virgin olive oil and start to fry over a medium high heat while you continue to chop and add further veggies of your choice.

Make sure you add the sweet paprika and cumin along with the onions and garlic, after a couple of moments of frying and before you add all the other veggies.

steam frying the vegetables in a saucepan for Spanish vegan bean stew


The first time I made the potaje using sweet potato and I love sweet potato so it was fine for me, but the sweetness doesn’t really go so well with the flavour of the potaje so personally I think you’re better off using pumpkin instead of the sweet potato.

I would also fry some celery in with the veggies with this recipe if I’d had some as it adds a nice depth to the flavour. In the bean stew in the photo below I used half a leek, 2 carrots, half a small pumpkin, half a large red pepper and a few green beens.

Spanish bean stew, potaje de alubias in a red bowl


Fry all the veggies in a saucepan over a medium high heat in some olive oil and salt. Add plenty of sweet paprika (I used about a dessert spoon) and if you like spice you can also add a little chilli, though it isn’t part of the traditional recipe. I also added a generous amount of cumin, though again everything is entirely optional.

When the veggies are looking cooked and the onion translucent (after about 10-15 minutes), add a jar of white beans and water to cover. Then add 3-4 small handfuls of brown rice, or rice of choice. Check the flavour for salt.

Spanish vegan bean stew in a bowl


It’s so easy – that’s it!

You just have to leave it to cook for 15-20 minutes and then serve. Bear in mind that the rice will absorb the liquid so add more water if necessary. You want it to be juicy but not like a soup, and not too much liquid in the pan.

Spanish Bean Stew – Potaje de Alubias

Easy and quick bean stew from Spain. Alter the vegetables according to what you have to hand.

15 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

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  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 leek
  • 1/2 a small pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1/2 a large red pepper
  • handful of green beans
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 1 large jar white beans
  • 3 handfuls of wholegrain brown rice
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • sweet paprika to taste (1 dessert spoon)
  • cumin to taste (1 dessert spoon)


  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to a saucepan with a little olive oil.
  2. Finely slice the leek and add.
  3. Add about 1 dessert spoon each of ground cumin and sweet paprika.
  4. Chop the pumpkin into 1 cm pieces and add along with one or two bay leaves.
  5. Finely slice the carrot and add.
  6. Slice the red pepper and add.
  7. After about 10 minutes, when the mix is more or less cooked, add the chopped tomatoes and leave for another few minutes.
  8. Next add a jar of white beans and water to cover.
  9. Add 3 handfuls of brown wholegrain rice, stir and leave to cook on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is al-dente.
  10. Serve and Enjoy!


This recipe takes quite a lot of salt to really bring out the flavours. However, if you're cooking for a low sodium diet, it also works to cook with no salt and add the salt to the dish at the end if you want it. To cook with dried beans, use the same method only extend the cooking time, use a pressure cooker or partially pre-cook the beans.


gluten free
dairy free
egg free
soy free
wheat free

You can serve the bean stew on its own or with a generous topping of nutritional yeast. I love it both ways!

Oooh, and if you have some Helman’s vegan mayonnaise (that’s the only one I’ve tried and I love it), it’s also yummy with the mayonnaise and a sprinkling of crunchy alfalfa sprouts on top.

Spanish vegan bean stew with nutritional yeast


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