Lobio (Red Kidney Bean Stew)


Yield: 6


  • 1 pound red kidney beans or cranberry beans*, dry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, large, finely chopped
  • 1 cup California walnuts, chopped
  • Pinch of saffron threads, or a pinch of saffron powder
  • 1 bunch cilantro, fresh, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 bunch mint, fresh, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek**, ground
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3–4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2–3 tbsp pomegranate molasses



  1. Rinse the beans well and put them in a large pot. Add enough water to cover them by about three inches and soak the beans overnight, or for at least 6 to 8 hours.

  2. Bring the beans to a boil, cover the pan partially, and boil gently until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain the beans in a colander, reserving the cooking liquid. Set aside.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Add the drained beans and about 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cooking. Using the flat part of a spatula, or a potato masher, mash some of the beans to a rough paste. Stir well, and repeat the mashing once or twice more. You should have a thick, rustic, stew-like mixture, similar to refried beans. If necessary, add a little more of the cooking liquid to achieve the right consistency. (Any remaining bean cooking liquid may be used in another soup, or a vegetable stock.) Add the walnuts, saffron, cilantro, mint and fenugreek then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the vinegar and pomegranate molasses and stir well. The beans should have a pleasant sweet and sour balance.

  4. Serve the stew, directly from the cooking pot if you wish, accompanied by flat bread, or a rustic country bread to mop up the juices.