Lemony Butter Bean Stew with Spinach & Leeks

Butter bean stew in a purple dutch oven.

I’ve got the perfect wholesome, warming vegetarian dinner for you all to enjoy later this week by way of this Lemony Butter Bean Stew with Spinach and Leeks. Creamy jarred beans, a rich, vibrant broth and plenty of seasonal greens make this a quick and simple dinner I hope you’ll love as much as I do!

This recipe started life as a Creamy Sausage, Leek and Butter Bean Stew by food writer Sophie Wyburd in the Bold Bean Co. cookbook ad / gifted. I loved it but J was less enthused, but it turns out the thing I loved more than the sausage stew was the sausage-free leftovers, warmed through the next day and topped with a jammy 7-minute egg, Aleppo chili flakes and a good drizzle of chilli-infused olive oil.

A bowl of butter bean and spinach stew with a jammy egg.

So, I decided to re-work it as a creamy, lemony, bean-heavy stew that is perfect for these cool, rainy days as winter starts to give way to spring and the first crocus has poked it’s purple head out of the soil in the pots around the kitchen door. Serve it with or without the eggs and chilli, but with lots of crusty bread for dipping and dunking – the wine, lemon and creme fraiche infused broth really is something else!

Jarred Beans vs. Tinned Beans

I never used to ‘get’ jarred beans. They were way more expensive than canned beans which were super cheap, and having not actually tried said jarred beans, I could not see how there could be much difference. (This was the same previous me that never see the point in cooking dried beans from scratch, but since making chickpeas in my Instant Pot for a client I now get it, but now I have jarred beans I still don’t bother!)

In my kitchen, canned beans still have their place (for example if I used jarred butter beans in my beloved Slow Cooker Sausage & Butter Bean Casserole they’d simply fall apart) but since finally trying said jarred beans, I’m a full convert. The beans are plumper, creamier, and just taste better. Rather than being something a little sad on their own (who remember’s 90’s mixed bean salads made with bottled dressing and chopped peppers on the salad bar?) they’ve become the star of the dish (my recipe for Pork Steaks with Butter Beans and Chorizo is a great example of this), or else worthy enough to take the place of potatoes, pasta, bread or rice as a standout side.

In this butter bean stew you really do need to use jarred beans as you use the flavourful bean stock from the jar as well as the beans: if you’ve ever tasted the liquid canned beans are preserved in vs. jarred, you’ll know that jarred bean stock tastes delicious, and there is a reason you rinse off the canned stuff before using the beans!

My preferred brand of jarred butter beans are either Bold Bean Co.’s Queen Butter Beans (they’ve gifted me a few jars, but I bought them before and continue to buy them), Perello’s Judion Beans, or Navarrico’s Large Butter Beans “Judión” (I’m happy to buy whichever is sold wherever I’m doing my shop) but if you’re trying to figure out which jar (or tin for other recipes) of beans is best for you the Cynical Vegan has written a brilliant comparison of lots available on the British market including own brands, and taking a deep dive into flavour, ingredient lists and sustainability credentials — I really recommend you read her piece before you shop!

Lemon and butter bean stew in a purple Le Creuset next to fresh thyme and a bowl of chilli flakes.
Close up of a butter bean, spinach and leek stew being spooned out of the cooking pot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use different types of beans in this recipe?

Yes, any jarred white bean will work. See my notes on jarred beans vs. tinned beans above, because I’m afraid that tinned beans just won’t cut it here.

Can I substitute different vegetables in this stew?

Of course! I’ve been using a lot of spinach recently but chard, cavelo nero and kale would all be good here. If it is seasonal, vibrant and it will wilt it will work in this recipe.

Can I make this stew dairy free or vegan friendly?

Yes! Just use your favourite vegan creme fraiche or neutral vegan cream substitute in place of the creme fraiche.

How long will the leftovers keep?

Up to 4 days, in sealed containers in the fridge. Gently warm through in a saucepan, as you can seem from the photograph of my microwaved bowl above butter beans have a tendency to explode in the microwave if you’re not careful!

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Lemon and butter bean stew in a purple Le Creuset next to fresh thyme and a bowl of chilli flakes.

Lemony Butter Bean Stew with Spinach & Leeks

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This easy, creamy, lemony Butter Bean Stew with Spinach and Leeks is the perfect vegetarian dinner for a chilly evening, ready in just 30 minutes! By using jarred beans and their preserving liquid you create a rich, savoury stew perfect for adding seasonal veg.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek
  • sea salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 700g jar butter beans + their preserving liquid
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 80g bag baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche 
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Warm the olive oil over a medium high heat in a large, heavy bottomed and lidded saucepan or casserole dish. Trim and finely slice the leek into half moons, and peel the garlic cloves.
  2. Cook the leeks with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes or so until soft, but not at all browned. Stir in the garlic, finely grated or minced, and cook until fragrant. 
  3. Stir in the thyme sprigs, the butter beans and all of the liquid from their jar, the wine, and the vegetable stock. Season well with black pepper (don’t add any more salt, as the bean stock will be salted) and raise the heat to high. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Leave to simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach, then return the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, and the creme fraiche. Season to taste with more black pepper and salt if needed, and serve in in warm bowls either by itself, or topped with jammy eggs, chilli oil and Aleppo chilli flakes. 


Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm them gently through on the hob because the microwave might cause the beans to split and explode!

Keywords: butter beans, butter bean stew, leeks, spinach, lemon