Unexpectedly Good Dilly Bean Stew with Cabbage

If you like pickles or the flavor of dill, you’ll love this stew. It was inspired by Alison Roman’s recipe for Dilly Bean Stew with Cabbage and Frizzled Onions. You can find her recipe on her website at www.alisonroman.com. This dilly bean stew is satisfying and healthy. Definitely a type of stew I would’ve never tried before, but I’m so glad I did.

This recipe is also vegan and gluten-free. But if you would like to add some meat, I’d suggest trying a little bacon or ham. And a dollop of sour cream on top might also be a nice a addition.

Is Dilly Bean Stew Healthy?

The navy and great northern beans in this stew add fiber, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium among other nutrients. Beans and legumes of all kinds are an excellent source of all these nutrients in addition to being a fabulous source of plant-based protein.

Another wonderful thing about beans, yes, even canned beans, is that they are very cost-effective. I am a huge advocate for consuming more plant-based meals not only for the health benefits, but also for the sake of saving money.

Beans and legumes, also called pulses, have been shown to help prevent and even manage many health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, and obesity (1).

As you can see, beans are very underrated. So make sure you’re getting at least the recommended 1.5 cups per week in your balanced diet (2).

However, I do have two main suggestions when it comes to adding beans into your diet:

  1. When using canned beans, make sure to get the “no added salt” version of your bean of choice to avoid too much dietary sodium.
  2. If adding beans into your diet, do so gradually to avoid gas, bloating , abdominal pain, other GI issues.

Ingredients for Dilly Bean Stew

The ingredients in this recipe are common ones, nothing special here. You may even have most on hand and ready to go. Let me tell you a little about the major components. There are slight variations on the ingredients and others that I wouldn’t change at all. Check out the discussion for each ingredient below for more on this.


I used a sweet onion for this version of dilly bean stew which has a lower sulfur content than other varieties of onion, making them taste sweeter. Also known as a Vidalia onion, it is perfect for using in soups and stews. And did you know that sweet onions don’t keep long in room-temperature? So, it’s recommended you store this variety in the fridge (3).

If you don’t have Vidalia onion, you can substitute another sweet onion like Walla Walla, or use white onion, yellow onion, or even shallots in a pinch. It will change the flavor of your dilly bean stew slightly but still works out quite well.


There are a lot of bean varieties out there. This recipe uses white beans in the form of white navy and great northern beans. It definitely adds to the visual aesthetic of keeping the stew a light beige color and letting the flecks of fresh, green dill shine.

If you need suggestions for other bean varieties to use here, I’d try other “beige” colored beans. Try garbanzos (chickpeas), cannellini, fayot, or broad beans.

You’ll still get all the wonderful health benefits described above no matter which type of bean(s) you use.


The cabbage is one of the stars and main components in this dilly bean stew. Cabbage is great for steaming, eating raw as in cole slaw dishes when you need a crunchy texture, or in stir-frys and stews when you need a more firm leaf-like vegetable.

FYI, this underappreciated vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K.

Although there are other varieties of cabbage, I’d stick with regular green cabbage, also called cannonball cabbage. Only because it is extra firm and will hold up well without wilting into a soggy, wilted mush like other greens in the cabbage family.


Dill is the only herb used here. It gives such as fresh flavor to this dish. And yes, will give a reminiscent taste of pickle which I find interesting in this soup.

No other herb will do in this stew. So don’t even try it. Afterall, it’s called “dilly” bean stew for a reason.

How To Make Dilly Bean Stew

Time needed: 55 minutes

Make your Unexpectedly Good Dilly Bean Stew with Cabbage

  1. Fry your onions

    The first thing you want to do is fry your onions until they’re browned and crispy on the edges. You don’t want them sauteed, soft, or jammy. After frying them all, set aside about 1/4 cup to top your stew with prior to serving.

  2. Add stock, beans and vinegar.

    Next, add the vegetable stock or broth, the drained beans (or prepared dried beans, if using), and vinegar. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

  3. Add cabbage.

    Then add the chopped cabbage and bring your stew to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked. Is doesn’t take long.

  4. Add the dillweed

    Turn down the heat to a simmer or turn it off completely and add the chopped dill. Stir is all up and admire your onion-y, creamy stew.

  5. Top with onion and other toppings of choice.

    Now you can add the onions from earlier you set aside, along with any other toppings you like to try. Add a couple more sprigs of dill to make it pretty (or not). And enjoy!

Dilly bean stew served in a white bowl topped with a sprinkling of bacon and a sprig of dillweed.

Unexpectedly Good Dilly Bean Stew with Cabbage

Here is a stew that is surprisingly good despite the few and simple ingredients used. They work so well together and even those following a more flexitarian-style diet can add some bacon into the mix.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8
Calories 136 kcal


  • 1 emulsion blender optional


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 sweet onion large
  • 1 32 oz carton vegetable stock or broth unsalted
  • 1 15 oz can navy beans drained, low sodium
  • 1 15 oz can great norther beans drained, low sodium
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ head cabbage chopped
  • black pepper to taste
  • ¼-½ cup dill weed


  • Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Fry until onions are browned with slightly crisp edges, but not burnt.
  • Add pepper to taste. Then set aside about 1/4 cup of your onions for topping your stew later.
  • Add vegetable broth, beans, and vinegar. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Use emersion blender or potato masher to smash up some of the beans to thicken the stew. You want to still leave some intact.
  • Add cabbage. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn heat down to a simmer. Add dill.
  • Serve and enjoy with any added toppings!



Additional Suggestions: 
  • I’d suggest some croutons for crunch or serve with the fresh, crusty French bread with butter. Mmm!
  • Other toppings could include: crumbled bacon, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, or a little smoked sausage. And if you’re not opposed to those canned fried onions, you know, the ones used to top green bean casserole? You could also add a few of those on top for some texture. 
  • You can also use dried beans after prepping them by soaking overnight then draining. 
  • Do not omit the dill in this recipe or substitute with any other herb- that’s what totally makes this stew!  
Nutritional Information Per 1 cup Serving (Makes ~8 servings): 
136 calories, 3 gm total fat, 0.5 gm saturated fat, 6.3 gm carbohydrate, 6.3 gm protein, 5 gm fiber, 185 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Keyword dairy-free, easy, gluten-free, mediterranean, soup, vegan, vegetarian

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