Bean Stew with Red Wine Syrup

Got it from here originally, but we’ve adapted it slightly for our locale while on vacation in Mexico. Plan ahead — starting with dry beans means an overnight soak before you can get started in earnest.

Want to make it meatless? Be careful. The bacon provides salt, smoke flavor, and fat to keep the beans from going chalky on you. So if you’re going vegetarian here, you might consider adding pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) or even liquid smoke flavoring, salt, and plenty of olive oil to compensate.


1/2 pound bacon, diced or in postage-stamp-sized slices
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped or smashed
1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, more to taste
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Shredded cotija cheese, for serving (optional)
generous bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped


1. In the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Drain beans and add to pot along with 1 tablespoon salt. Pour in enough water to just cover the beans (about 7 to 8 cups). Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently until beans are just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, simmer wine until it is reduced to 2/3 cup, 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Pour wine into beans, mix in the cumin and chili powder, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes longer to meld flavors and thicken broth to taste. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro.

2 thoughts on “Bean Stew with Red Wine Syrup”

  1. shoreacres

    This looks terrific. I’m going to try it with some heritage beans I brought back from Illinois. They have wonderful names like black valentine, eye of the goat and Jacob’s cattle gold, and their flavors differ more than I imagined they would.

    The best part is I have every single ingredient except the cheese on hand.

    I hope you’re enjoying your vacation!

    1. cliff1976

      Indeed we are, shoreacres!

      It was a pretty pot of beans too — nice purply red color owing to the wine syrup. Wish I’d taken a picture. Next time, I guess.

      You could roll feta on the cheese if cotija is hard to come by (like it normally is for us). They are similarly salty. The cotija has more of a yeasty taste to it (which can be a little off-putting if you’re new to it).

      Sarah and I are both impressed with the texture of the plain old pinto beans available here in Mexico — a decent soak overnight softens them right up; much more so than the rosecoco beans we get at the China Laden in Regensburg, which taste good but also seem to never completely lose the crunch.

      ¡Buen provecho!

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