When we opened Café Bautier a couple of years ago, the focaccia sandwiches were the headline of the lunch menu yet as the winter season approached, I felt like adding something warm and hearty, something which wasn’t bread-based; keeping the menu simple but offering more choice for those who prefer a vegetable-based meal. So, I started testing out various stew recipes, mostly using legumes as the base. Straightforward recipes which can easily be tried at home, here we share this week café's suggestion: white beans with tomatoes, garlic and sage.

I recommend starting from dry beans; it does imply a little more planning but the end-result is definitely worth it. A stew like this is made from only a few ingredients, something that makes sense for us in our small café kitchen, yet the taste is rich and your body feels content at the end of the meal.

If you’re curious to taste the stew before cooking it yourself, feel welcome at the café where we serve it until Saturday.

Serves 4

300g white beans, soaked overnight
4 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 bunch flat parsley, finely chopped
4 eggs
salt & pepper

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by at least 10 cm, add 2 tablespoons of salt, stir to dissolve and let sit for 8 to 10 hours. Rinse the beans and cook in plenty of water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam, and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Let beans cool in the cooking liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat in a heavy based saucepan, add the onions, garlic and sage and cook until the onion is tender. Add the tomatoes and lemon zest. Cook gently until thickened, about 25 minutes. Add the beans with 2 cups cooking liquid and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Finally add the chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Serve in a shallow bowl, topped with a poached egg, a little parsley, salt & pepper and a drizzle olive oil.