Food & Wine Magazine: October Cover Recipe

White Bean & Ham Stew

Rating: 4 out of 5 (hearty & warming)

Initial Thoughts: Looks like a bowl full of autumn just waiting to be devoured!

THE TEST: For those of you who regularly read my blog, my complicated relationship with soup will not come as a surprise (read here for more info…it’s a good story!) But I consider stews to be in an entirely different category than soup – a category that I happen to love. So combined with the fact that the weather recently turned chilly and this particular cover recipe was developed by the great Jacques Pépin…I was excited.

This hearty stew is Pépin’s version of a garbure; a thick soup hailing from south-western France that involves simmering a variety of root vegetables, cabbage and meat for a lengthy amount of time. It was a popular dish amongst the peasantry, as it was a perfect means of using cheap cuts of meat and whatever leftover vegetables they happened to have on hand. Typically, you ended the meal by adding some red wine to the last bit of broth and sipping directly from the bowl. Not a bad idea really.

The recipe calls for ham hocks, but upon visiting my local butcher he convinced me to use dry smoked ham which was a rarity to find in his shop. Full of rich, smoky meat that was not at all mushy, it only took one nibble of a sample slice to have me converted. Also, because I was unable to find dried cannellini beans I used dried pinto beans instead.

Making this stew was almost hypnotic. In fact, I think I kind of went into a zen-like trance as I cut the vegetables and tossed everything into the pot, letting the ingredients simmer away for hours on the stovetop. It felt good. Simple. Healthy. Seasonal.

THE RESULTS: While neither of the children liked the stew (somehow they seem to have inherited a more comprehensive version of my weirdo anti-soup gene that extends to stews), both Mr. Spock and I thought it was very tasty. The flavour was similar to split pea soup. I enjoyed the variety of root vegetables but have to say that the cabbage was my favourite. It added a contrasting texture and slight sharpness which went well with the otherwise mellow stew. The ham was delicious, and lent a fantastic smokiness to the whole dish.

Because we are avoiding gluten at the moment, I omitted the cheese smothered toasted bread but can only imagine the fabulousness. In conclusion, while we enjoyed this soup I don’t think we will be making it again. Nothing wrong with the recipe – it just wasn’t our thing and both hubby and I agreed that there are many other soups/stews we would rather eat instead.

Now I’m going to hop on over to Aimée White’s blog to see what she thought about this month’s cover recipe. It’s so much more fun cooking along with other people…even if they live on the opposite coast! And don’t forget to check out Kendall Harris’ wine pairing suggestion – it’s definitely on my to buy list!

[NOTE: Yeah so…ummm…kinda ate the soup and completely forgot to take a picture. My bad!]

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit

White Bean & Ham Stew
Wine Pairing by Kendall Harris of Wine2Three
I mentioned last month that a key wine pairing rule is to pair the intensity of the food with the intensity of the wine. This month, I want to highlight another great wine pairing tip: pair regional cuisine with the wines from that region. This sumptuous White Bean & Ham Stew hails from the South of France, but it reminded me of food I’d had travelling through neighbouring Spain, where ham is an integral part of so many meals. This plus the fact that Spain and France share many culinary characteristics, made me think that a Spanish Rioja would be the perfect pairing!

Rioja literally means ‘red’ in Spanish, and Rioja wines are made with a blend of various grapes, mainly Tempranillo, often with Garnacha. I can recommend a Rioja I know and love and that is widely available: the Crianza Rioja from Marques de Caceres. On Spanish wine labels, you’ll see the terms Joven, Crianza, Reserva, or Gran Reserva, and they refer to the amount of time a wine has spent aging in oak barrels, from none to several years. Crianza wines are aged a year in barrel, and then for some time in the bottle before they’re released for sale onto the market. This Crianza Rioja has bright fruit flavours, wonderful acidity, and an interesting complexity which will complement the richness of this stew. Personally, I have never had a Rioja I didn’t love; there’s something about that Tempranillo grape! If you can’t get this particular brand, look for any Crianza Rioja. You can’t go wrong!

Kendall Harris shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three onTwitter & Facebook. She is WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certified & is currently developing a weekly wine series on ShawTV, where she is a full time reporter. Join her on Facebook – click LIKE at for regular fun wine info!