Scarlet Runner Bean Stew

Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) are one of my favorite legumes for soups and stews. Large, meaty and succulent, they make for wonderfully nourishing, filling and delicious dishes!


Like most dried beans, scarlet runners are very high in dietary fiber (16g per serving), a good source of non-animal protein (2.3g per serving), and contain no fat. Other nutritional characteristics of scarlet runners include:


  • Vitamins: A and C, as well as the B vitamins thiamine, niacin and folate.
  • Phyto-nutrients: high in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein
  • Fiber and satiety index: very high in fiber and water content–which makes them a good choice for appetite satisfaction.
  • Caloric density and glycemic index: low, meaning that scarlet runners are acceptable for diabetics and others trying to stabilize blood sugar and keep body weight down.


The insoluble fiber in beans which can cause flatulence can be minimized by pre-soaking for at least 8 hours, and changing the soak water at least once before cooking. Cooking with fennel seeds, cumin and fenugreek, and holding off on salt until after the beans are cooked, are other means of breaking down the insoluble fiber in the outer coating of beans.


Scarlet runner beans are easiest to find in whole foods stores. The Felton New Leaf Market is the local market where I have found them most often. They can be recognized by their exceptionally large size and mottled deep red and black colors.


I prefer to use a pressure cooker for cooking beans. Not only does a pressure cooker greatly shorten cooking time–making bean dishes more practical and saving energy–but the beans retain more flavor, texture, and nutrients. Here€™s one way I like to cook them:



  • 1 cup dried scarlet runner beans, pre-soaked for > 8 hours
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • ½ cup olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups strained or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chopped dried oregano
  • Salt to taste


To cook:

1. Heat olive oil in pressure cooker or stock pot (> 2 quarts).

2. Add cumin, oregano and garlic, and onion. Sautee garlic and onion past the translucency stage, until they begin to carmelize (brings out the onion’s sweetness).

3. Add the chopped bell pepper and olives, and continue sauteeing until pepper is softened.

4. Add remaining ingredients, cover and cook until beans are tender. In a pressure cooker, this will typically be within 12-15 minutes; in a non-pressurized stock pot, lower heat and simmer for 3-4 hours. The beans should be firm and not mushy or broken down for best flavor and texture.

Serve as a stew by itself, or over your favorite cooked whole grains.