From toddlers to teens: one autumnal bean stew for the whole family

14th October 2019

With young kids and fussy eaters in tow, it can often feel an impossible task to feed the whole family the same meal. Food stylist, cookbook author and mother, Georgina Hayden, shares how she does it with this family recipe for bean stew.

bean stew recipe

Hands up, who’s favourite month is October? There is nothing I don’t love about this gateway month (I’m a walking cliché I know). As I am writing this I am still wearing Birkenstocks (just), but know that by this evening I’ll be in slippers. That is my wardrobe dream. The colours and changing leaves make me smile from ear to ear and – the big one – the food. For me, it’s the pinnacle time for produce.

Pumpkins, squash, orchard fruits, figs (my favourite), chard, sweetcorn… I love it all. Also, I’m finding it easier to prepare food for the family than I did during the summer. That’s when I’d cook fresher foods, which meant less prepping ahead and more cooking in situ. With winter approaching, we all want hearty, warming dishes and it means I’m able to batch-cook and stockpile, which I love. Three days ago, I chopped up pumpkin, lightly spiced it and roasted it. We ate it as part of a warm salad. I then blitzed the rest into a soup for the second day. Today, I’ve pimped that soup with Thai-inspired ingredients and added noodles, coconut and lime. All things which Persephone can enjoy, too. This is my favourite way to cook.

Something that has become apparent when feeding Persephone is how much she loves beans and pulses, which really suits these colder days. And as much as I love those famous tomatoey beans in a can eaten on toast (you know what I’m on about), I don’t want to introduce them to her just yet. At the end of the day, they are laced with sugar and salt. Which is exactly why I’m excited to share the recipe below with you. It is vegan, but it can be embellished as you wish. Add seasonal veg, such as pumpkin or chard, or squeeze in a little sausage meat when frying the base. It’s fabulous.

Interestingly, Persephone loves meat (we aren’t a very carnivorous household), but I’m conscious not to give her too much processed meat. Still, I was over the moon to discover there are kid-friendly, low-salt sausages on the Farmdrop shop. They aren’t an everyday staple for us but it is wonderful to be able to give them to her every so often and rest assured that they aren’t filled with tonnes of added salt or any other rubbish.

The beauty of serving these cowboy beans is that they can be taken a variety of ways. Make a huge batch and serve it straight up like a stew. Then the next day, serve leftovers on a bed of rice with grated Cheddar, just like a chilli. Or you could reduce it down over a medium heat and use it to fill tortillas, along with chopped avocado and a little yoghurt. It also works well for very little ones in the form of a purée (see cooking instructions below). A proper one pot family meal.

Slow-cooked cowboy bean stew

kids bean stew

I’ve included instructions to add sausage in the base for those who want to give it a try, but if you want to make it straight-up just leave that step out and go straight to sautéing the veg. You could also try adding seasonal greens for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Or stir in chunks of roasted pumpkin or squash. For a small baby, blitz the beans at an equal ratio of beans to cooked rice, with enough cooled boiled water to your desired consistency.

Serves: 2 adults, plus 2 to 4 children

– 2 onions
– 2 carrots
– 2 sticks of celery
– olive oil
– optional: 4 low-sodium pork sausages
– ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
– ½ teaspoon allspice
– 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
– 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
– 2 x 400g tins of beans (such as cannellini beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans)
– 300ml low-sodium vegetable stock
– Cheddar cheese, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 160ºC. Peel and finely chop the onions and carrots. Trim and finely chop the celery.

2. Place a large saucepan or casserole pan on a medium heat and drizzle in a little olive oil. If using sausages, squeeze the meat out of its skin and fry it for 5 to 8 minutes, breaking it up as you go, until browned.

3. Add the chopped veg to the pan, lower the heat and slowly sauté for 10 minutes, until everything has begun to soften. Stir in the paprika and allspice, then after a minute stir in the tomato purée. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes, beans in their juices and the vegetable stock.

4. Bring everything to the boil, then cover with a lid and pop in the oven for 1 hour, or until rich and thick, removing the lid for the last 10 minutes. Alternatively you can do this on the hob on a low heat, but I love cooking stews in the oven as I think it gives it a deeper flavour. 

5. Serve over cooked rice with a grating of Cheddar on top, if you like. 

For these ingredients and all the family food you need, from Organic baby food and formula to kids snacks, nappies and much more, head to the Baby & Kids section on

For more meal ideas to feed the whole family, check out Georgina Hayden’s recipes for Thai fish curry, breakfast cauliflower cheese fritters and roasted sweet potato and charred corn salad. Check out these time-saving tips to ace slow-cooker recipes.

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