A hearty bean stew that is an excellent option to chili. Made with a light broth, this stew is served with grilled bread and topped with a dash of balsamic vinegar.

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4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped leek
2 cups stock*
4 to 6 cups water
1 1/2 cups small dry navy beans

1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped tomato, seeded
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
Pepper to taste
Dash of white balsamic vinegar

Soak the beans in water overnight until they plump up. Heat the oil in a pot and cook the vegetables for 6 minutes until soft. Drain the beans and add to the vegetables. Add the stock (*for a vegetarian version use vegetable stock, otherwise chicken stock), additional oil, tomato paste and sugar. Add an additional 2 cups water and bring the beans to a boil.

Stir the beans frequently and check how much liquid is remaining. As the liquid reduces add 2 cups of water at a time until the beans are thoroughly cooked (the skin will start to break apart). Note: Dry beans usually take much longer to cook than canned beans. These beans will take at a minimum 2 to 3 hours to cook.

Once the beans are soft and have begun to break apart, continue reducing to ensure most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar before serving.

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