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. This dilly bean stew is satisfying and healthy. It’s not your typical chicken noodle but it’s just as comforting and soul-warming.

This dilly bean stew 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. A dollop of sour cream on top is also a nice a addition.

Dilly bean stew in a white bowl

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 excellent sources of these nutrients in addition to being a fabulous source of plant-based protein.

Another wonderful thing about beans (even canned beans), is that they are very cost-effective.

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).

The beans in this dilly bean stew also provide soluble fiber which helps lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (AKA “bad” cholesterol).

Additionally, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K.

Expert Tips on Adding Beans

I do have two suggestions when it comes to adding beans to your diet:

  1. Choose Low Sodium– when using canned beans, make sure to get “reduced sodium” or “no added salt” varieties to avoid excess sodium in your diet. Most Americans already consume more sodium then they need.
  2. Slow and Steady– If adding beans or other high fiber foods into your diet, do so gradually to avoid gas, bloating , abdominal pain, other GI issues. High fiber foods should be added slowly over the course of a few weeks to allow your gastrointestinal tract to adjust.

Most U.S. adults only get around 15 grams of fiber per day however, we should be consuming 25-38 grams of fiber each day.

Ingredients for Dilly Bean Stew

Many ingredients in this dilly bean stew recipe are common ones, nothing special here. You may even have most on hand and ready to go. Each ingredient plays a crucial role and there isn’t much room for variation or substitution.

Sweet Onion– 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.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil– I always sauté my veggies in a good extra virgin olive oil which adds healthy monounsaturated fats.

Vegetable Stock– Whichever stock or broth you choose, try to find an unsalted or low sodium version. You can always add a little salt during cooking if needed.

Navy Beans and Great Northern Beans– I prefer white beans like navy, great northern, or cannellini for this dilly bean stew. These add to the visual aesthetic of keeping the stew a light beige color and letting the flecks of fresh, green dill shine. Again, try to find lower sodium beans if using canned, or use prepared dry beans. W

White Vinegar– Vinegar gives this stew the “zing” it needs to pair with the dill and give it that pickled flavor. If you think this is odd, trust me, it works in this recipe.

Cabbage– Common green cabbage is all you need in this recipe. It’s cheap and adds so much substance to this stew.

Black Pepper– White there is no salt in this dilly bean stew, a little pepper (black or white) is all that’s needed.

Dill– 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.

How To Make Dilly Bean Stew

With about ten minutes of prep work, this dilly bean stew is an easy to prepare weeknight dinner. Here are the simple instructions on how to make this in a snap.

Step 1: Fry the Onions

The first thing you want to do is fry your onions until they’re browned and crispy on the edges. You can do this right in your soup pot if you don’t want to dirty another pan. Add the extra virgin olive oil along with your onions and off you go.

You don’t want them sautéed, soft, or jammy. We want some crispy bits.

After frying all of them, set aside about 1/4 cup to top your stew with prior to serving.

Step 2: Add Stock, Beans, and Vinegar

Next, add the vegetable stock or broth, the drained beans (or prepared dried beans, if using), and vinegar to your soup pot. Simmer this mixture over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

An immersion blender or potato masher will be needed in this step to mash some of the beans. Mashing half of the beans gives this dilly bean stew a creamier texture.

Step 3: Add the Cabbage

Next add the chopped cabbage and bring your stew to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked. This step doesn’t take long if you chop or slice our cabbage thin.

Step 4: Add the Dill

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

Step 5: Top With Onions

Now you can add the onions you crisped up from earlier and set aside. Add any other toppings you’d like as well, like bacon or ham.

Sprinkle on a couple more sprigs of dill to make it pretty (or not). And enjoy!

Variations and Substitutions

For the onion– 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.

Bean variations– 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.

Cabbage choices– 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 some other greens in the cabbage family.

As far as the dill, no other herb will do in this stew. So don’t even try it. Afterall, it’s called “dilly” bean stew for a reason.

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 immersion blender optional


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 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 the onions are browned with slightly crisp edges, but not burnt.
  • Add pepper to taste. Reserve about 1/4 cup of your onions for topping your stew later. Keep the rest in the soup pot.
  • Add vegetable broth, beans, and vinegar to the pot. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes.
  • Use an immersion blender or potato masher to smash up some of the beans to thicken the stew. You want to still leave some beans intact.
  • Add the cabbage. Bring the stew to a boil for about 5 minutes to allow the cabbage to soften.
  • Turn heat down to a simmer or turn it off completely. Then add the dill and stir to combine.
  • Top with your reserved fried onions and any other toppings. Enjoy!



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 crunch. 
  • Prepared dried beans can easily be substituted for canned beans. 
  • 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

Try these other soups and stews to warm you up, fill your belly, and make you feel GREAT:

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