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White-Bean-and-Ham Stew

This hearty stew called garbure, from southwestern France, is loaded with vegetables, beans and meat, the exact ingredients depending on availability. Jacques Pépin's version includes ham hocks and cabbage and is topped with toasted bread smothered in melted Gruyère cheese. Traditionally, anyone eating the stew would add some red wine to the last few spoonfuls of broth and sip it straight from the bowl.

Recipes from Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


slideshow More Hearty Stews


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 4 meaty smoked ham hocks (about 3 1/2 pounds)

  • 1/2 pound dried cannellini or borlotti beans (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed

  • 3 quarts water

  • 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 large parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of peasant bread, lightly toasted

  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère or Comté cheese


  1. In a large pot, combine the smoked ham hocks with the cannellini beans and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Add the potatoes, leek, celery, carrot, parsnip, cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover the stew and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
  2. Transfer the ham hocks to a plate. Simmer the stew uncovered over moderate heat until thickened and the beans and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, discard the skin and bones from the hocks and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Add the meat to the stew as it simmers. Season the stew with pepper.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Ladle the hot stew into 8 heatproof soup bowls and place the bowls on a large cookie sheet. Cover each bowl with a toast and spread the cheese on top. Broil 4 inches from the heat, rotating the bowls as necessary, until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat thoroughly, adding a little stock or water if necessary, before topping and broiling.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, juicy Beaujolais goes well with rustic dishes like this stew because its acidity can stand up to the heartiness of the dish.

Contributed By Photo © Con Poulos Published October 2011

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