Smoked Cod & Butterbean Stew

Lent is a time in Catholic countries of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Believer or not, it also means a few changes to diet in Andalucía with a reduction in meat heavy meals and a focus on vegetables, pulses and fish. A typical dish during this period is Potaje de Semana Santa, Holy Week Stew, which is typically made with chick peas (or a mix of chick peas and giant white beans) and salt cod. I was sure I had previously given you a recipe for this, but alas I have been remiss. Fortunately, Giovanna over at Blue Jellybeans, has done the honours, do check it out!

Smoked  Cod & Butterbean Stew (4)

As we’re still in the UK, and the weather has turned icy again, it was time to reinterpret this classic dish using ingredients available locally to me here.  We were pleased with the results and it’s definitely a dish that can be eaten any time of year, not just Lent.

The ingredient list is simple, but the slow cooking turns this into a beautifully flavoured dish.

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)

  • 2 cups of dried butterbeans
  • 1 head of garlic
  • A bay leaf
  • 1 large fillet of fresh cod (I used smoked but unsmoked would also be good) flaked into chunks
  • 2 cups approx. of finely chopped fresh spinach or kale
  • A pinch of saffron (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
  • 3 cloves (optional)

Start by soaking the beans in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda overnight. The next day drain them, cover well with water, add all the ingredients except the fish and spinach and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a couple of hours (or cook in a low heat in the oven for about 4 hous as I do) until the beans are really tender. Just before serving remove the garlic, bay leaf and cloves (if using), add the cod and spinach and cook on a medium heat. Stir a little to break up some of the beans and thicken the soup. Season with salt to taste.

Smoked  Cod & Butterbean Stew (1)

Serve with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.

If you want more Lenten recipes, take a look at Chgo John gorgeous Grilled Salted Cod recipe or my Parpuchas (Salt Cod Fritters) from last year.

PS. I have jsut come across a company that supplies (in the UK) some Spanish ingredients. Here’s the link (they haven’t paid me for this) but have just ordered the ingredients for Fabada Asturiana from them, so am hoping they’ll be good.


60 thoughts on “Smoked Cod & Butterbean Stew

    1. Couldn’t get salt cod in the UK so I used smoked which (bizarrely) is quite close in flavour to the bacalao. Traditionally it’s salt cod which you have to soak too (as you say…overnight is good)!

  1. What a lovely to dish to serve during these holy days ahead. My boys love soup and this would be a great dish for this Friday. Looks hearty as well and like that pinch of saffron. I do not have access to salted cod so with adjust seasoning and use fresh.

  2. Wonderful post with those notes on healthy food….
    The recipe is very appealing and though I knew something similar ,now I have something very precise to follow, so thank you ,Chica!

  3. I enjoy butter beans and your dish must have lots of flavor with the smoked cod. This is a dish I have never tried…thanks Tanya.

  4. I love the idea of using smoked cod…should add a nice depth to the stew, and without all the soaking you do with salt cod.
    How do the children celebrate Easter in Spain? We’ve been collecting stories from around the world, and were wondering…

    1. Smoked cod is a new discovery for me – I had previously only really eaten smoked haddock. In Spain there is no particular celebration as such for children (no bunnies or eggs) as it’s primarily a religious celebration. Palm Sunday (olive branches given out in our local church from the local trees) leads into Holy Week which is solemn with processions of people carrying Saints etc from churches and the “penitents” dressed I what we would consider clothing more akin to something we know from the KKK. It’s odd when you first see it, but interesting. Here’s a link to a post I did in 2011 it shows what it’s like!

  5. This certainly is a nice twist on a bean dish. Adding fish is a great idea, Tanya, though I didn’t know smoked cod is available. It’s bewn dismal, wet, and overcast for a few days now. A bowl of this would be so good. Heck! Just smelling it cook would be a treat. I need to put fava on my grocery list. Thanks, too, for the gracious shout out. You da best!

    1. Smoked cod was new to me, had only known smoked haddock previously. Grim weather here too…the snow came down yesterday and we were expecting our kitchen to be delivered. Think it’s currently stuck in a lorry somewhere on a motorway! And you’re welcome….it was difficult to choose just one recipe from so many good ones 🙂

  6. Some weird part of me says it would be fun to buy a piece of bacalao, write the address on it and affix a stamp, then stick it in a postbox to see if will make the journey and be reconstituted at the other end. It sounds a bit gross but those big sides of dried cod don’t come in plastic, are shipped from Iceland and handled by all and sundry. The salt kills all known germs. That must be some funny Blue Peter / Boy Scout part of my brain that got stuck in the 1970’s 😉
    Oddly the whole side of bacalao is sold naked, but small pieces are shrunk wrapped!
    Great recipe – I keep meaning to buy a piece of bacalao in Goldborne road to make brandada…

    1. I love the idea of your bacalao experiment! When I get back to Spain, maybe we should try it…I’ll mail you some and you can tell us what state it’s in when it arrives. Would love ot see my village postman’s face when he asks me what it in the package 😉

  7. I used to think that pairing fish with beans was madness. Why would anyone do that? That was until I started cooking my own beans and realised that they lend themselves to just about anything. There are lots of recipes with beans in cakes and the Asians certainly know their way around sweetening up a bean when needed. You lot in the Northern Hemisphere are being greedy with hogging your cold weather. I am going to have to write to the house of lords soon if you don’t start sharing! I am dabbling with my own beany productions at the moment and am just about to strip all of my bean bushes of their gorgeous borlotti, yin yang and scarlet runner beans. I am saving the seed this year so let them do their thing till spent. I use beans a lot and as I am dabbling in the Asian arts at the moment I have been finding some amazing recipes both savoury and sweet for beans. The Asians are masters of preparing just about anything in a delicious manner. As a vegan I figure I am constantly “giving things up” so lent isn’t any different for me but I might just give up mosquitoes for lent…or perhaps possums? Definately possums it is! 😉 I could make this dish with mushrooms (dried) to give it that meaty texture that the salt cod gives without the actual “cod” injection. I know this completely defeats the purpose BUT you gotta work with what you have ;). I urge anyone who hasn’t been to Chgo John’s site to head over there ASAP. You will not regret it because this man has food in his soul. That’s a good place to have food peeps…that’s where it tastes amazing because who is going to filter tinned baked beans and K.F.C. into their innermost sanctums?

    1. Beans are so fabulous – we love them! Tried to grow borlotti a few years back but we didn’t have much success. I think our “bumper” crop would have made a large tin of beans in quantity. I definitely agree you don’t need to give anything up…I am not enough of a believer to sign up for that…but as my mum says, it’s a good time to reflect and try to do a bit more for others 🙂 Think your idea of the mushrooms with beans ounds wonderful….you’ll have to let us know how the experiment goes! Still chuckling about your comment about the beans and KFC…so true…

  8. Sat here with snow…in March!…this looks like the perfect dish. As I think you’re getting worse weather than us, I do hope you’re stocking up on warming goodies like this!

    1. Yes, we’re almost snow bound here! The main roads are fine but today we can’t move our car out of our side road. Dishes like this are perfect for this weather 🙂 Stay warm and safe…

  9. Wonderfully appetizing dish for our first autumn days [hmmp: 30 C here is not quite autumn and Melbourne down south is experiencing the 9th day of a record heatwave! Dear Father up above, we are supposed to be the Green Nation, so why 🙂 ?] Anyways, love the smoked cod – that is available in every food shop here 😀 !

  10. Can you believe I used to abhor butter beans and then one day I had an epiphany. They’re my favourite pulse now… hmm, and this post is making me want to go and put some to soak in water!

    Great looking stew Chica 🙂

  11. How wonderful Tanya!
    Como ves voy un poco atrasada con mis comentarios, pero más vale tarde que nunca… 😉
    Me parece una idea fantástica sustituir los garbanzos por alubias, el plato cambia totalmente, aunque seguro que sigue siendo igual de delicioso.
    Un abrazo,

  12. Oh so good Tanya! I see from your response to Roger above that you used smoked cod which you said tasted much like Bacalao – I’ve wanted so badly a taste of that for years. This soup is so up my alley and (with luck) will be so on our table before long!

      1. Wek I do, in that horribel batter…in Spain they still sell it on deli counters and it’s called “chopped” but pronounced chop-ed…so funny! By the way, you popped up as Spam again..this is very weird.

  13. Terrific! I can just taste how lovely the saffron would be perfuming the smoked cod and butter beans. So warming and delicious. And with the greens added, a meal unto itself…my favorite! 🙂

  14. Hubs is away presently so I’m thinking I could make this for me and my girls. Yum. Even if the weather here is hot and dry dry dry I like the idea of it with crusty bread and a glass of vino (for me!). Thanks Chica.

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