Originating from southern France, the cassoulet is a white bean stew that is traditionally simmered over a long period of time. Since white beans are the soul of this dish, it is easy to adapt it to a vegan preparation where various types of vegetable sausages, smoked or marinated tofu or seitan can be incorporated.
The choice of white beans and other meaty additions depends on region. In general, white kidney beans (or what are known in French as ‘haricots lingot’) or the French Tarbais beans, which are somewhat flatter, are quintessential of this dish. Various dried herbs and vegetables like carrot, leek, celery, chunky sliced tomatoes as well as bread crumbs also find their way into this hearty stew and contribute to a nice flavour and texture profile. There are thus many variations of the cassoulet – Castelnaudary cassoulet, Toulouse cassoulet, cassoulet of Montauban, cassoulet of Carcassonne, cassoulet of Villefranche-de-Lauragais, cassoulet of the countryside, Mounjetado, Perigord cassoulet, the cod cassoulet …
The cassoulet inherits its name from the “cassole” which is a glazed terracotta dish with flared edges. Originally, it was a peasant recipe of meat remnants mixed with beans, then left on a corner of the stove in the morning to simmer all day and was consumed at dinner. It is not until the eighteenth century that the cassoulet, previously called ‘estouffet’, take the name of the name of the dish in which it simmers.
Some variations of the cassoulet calls for a coating of bread crumbs before baking. And when baked, it is traditionally necessary to break the crust that forms on the surface a few times. It seems that there is quite a debate, among the regions, on the proper number of times that the crust needs to be broken and push down into the sauce – seven times according to the grandmothers.
My vegan version of the recipe however, is made in a pressure cooker and there are no skin formation to break. The pressure cooker nevertheless delivers an equally tasty dish while considerably cutting down the cooking time. I have also skipped the bread crumbs but you may add some before serving for some crunchy texture. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can also make it on the stove or in the oven.
Watch the video for the step by step process of how to make this hearty Vegan Cassoulet.
You might also like these other hearty stew recipes
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Vegan Cassoulet – French White Bean Stew
- 200 g dried white kidney beans, or dried cannellini beans or Great Northern beans [1 cup]
- Water for soaking
- 4 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped into small pieces
- 120 ml hot water, if using dehydrated sun-dried tomato, i.e. not in oil [1/2 cup]
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger, or 1 thumb size fresh ginger, minced
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-cm chunks
- 4 – 5 stems fresh parsley, chopped
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1½ teaspoons of dried thyme
- 2 – 3 small bay leaves, or 1 large
- 500 ml water, [2 cups]
- 2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon powder, or 2 cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 – 5 drops liquid smoke
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8’s each (or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes)
- 3 large seitan sausages, store-bought or homemade, I used the spicy Tofurky sausages
- Salt, black pepper to season
- More chopped parsley for garnish
- On the day before, place the beans in a bowl and cover with plenty of water. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Once soaked, drain and rinse the beans and set them aside.
- Place the dehydrated sun-dried tomato halves in the hot water and leave to soak until softened.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients: chop the onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and parsley.
- Once the sun-dried tomatoes are softened, chop them into small pieces.
Pressure Cooker Instructions
- Set the pressure cooker to saute mode.
- Heat in 1 tablespoon of the oil and then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for about 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots and saute for another minute.
- Cancel the saute mode.
- Add the soaked drained uncooked beans, parsley, sprigs of thyme, bay leaves, sun-dried tomatoes along with the soaking water, bouillon powder/cubes, cumin and water.
- Close the lid and place the valve in the closed position.
- Set the pressure cooker for 9 minutes at maximum pressure. (I usually use the beans/chilli setting and reduce the time to 9 minutes).
- Once the time is up, allow the pressure to go down naturally for 10 minutes. Release any remaining steam from the pressure and open the lid.
- While the beans are being cooked, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a skillet.
- Add in the sausages and cook while occasionally turning the sausages on all sides until they are done.
- Slice the sausages into bite-size chunks (if desired).
- Add the sausages to the cooker.
- Stir in the tomatoes. Place the regular (glass) lid on the cooker. Set the cooker to soup mode or manual cooking mode on medium temperature and simmer for about 7 – 10 minutes, then cancel any remaining time.
- (If you want the cassoulet to be a little soupy, add some water. Or if you want to reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency, simmer uncovered).
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with parsley and serve with bread, rice or a side salad.
- Heat a thick bottom pan or pot on medium temperature.
- Follow steps 2 – 3 and 5, as for the pressure cooker instructions.
- Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat for about 40 minutes or until the beans are soft.
- Occasionally stir and check the water level (add more water if needed).
- While the beans are cooking, prepare the sausages as per steps 9 – 11 above.
- Add the sausages and tomatoes to the pot, cover and simmer for another 7 – 10 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cooking EquipmentThe pressure cooker that we use is the Cosori 6-Quart Pressure Cooker.
We also love our cast iron pan skillet that we use everyday. Link to original recipe – Vegan Cassoulet – https://veganlovlie.com/pressure-cooker-vegan-cassoulet
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