French bean stew

Easy French Bean Stew Recipe with Confit Duck

This easy French cassoulet-style bean stew recipe is a perfect hearty, warming dish for the colder months of the year. Inspired from the famous French dish, Cassoulet, from the South West of France, this recipe has all the flavour but doesn’t require hours of cooking. So read on if you want to make a quick, easy take on a French classic.

Delicious, Easy Cassoulet-Style French Stew

A traditional French bean stew – a Cassoulet – is an incredible dish but takes so much work before you can get it on a plate. Toulouse sausages, confit duck, salted pork, pork belly and cured pork are all needed for the historical dish. It’s hard enough to get all this in France alone so I’ve simplified it. Instead of using dry beans this recipe uses easy, cheap canned white beans that are still very healthy. The smokey, cured pork in Cassoulet is replaced with ready cubed bacon lardons and white wine helps to add acidity to cut through the richness. Store bought or home made confit duck is then added at the end to make a for a delicious, comforting dinner. It’s incredibly easy to make and doesn’t require much active cooking. In addition, it’s also a flexible recipe making it easy to turn the stew vegetarian.

Cassoulet style French bean stew with confit duck

The stew begins by browning bacon lardons in a small amount of duck fat which infuses the fat with an incredible smokey flavour. Aromatics are then sautéd with chopped vegetables and then the whole pan is deglazed with white wine. The beans are added along with chicken stock and then simmered for 20 minutes or until the stew is creamy and thick.

What You’ll Need

This recipe keeps it simple but feel free to add leftover roast pork, smoked sausages or pancetta. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • White Beans: To keep it quick, I use a can of white beans with the liquid in the can. This liquid helps to thicken the stew and makes it extra creamy! You can of course soak dry beans the night before and cook in the same way although you will need to simmer the stew for longer.

  • Bacon: Smoked bacon lardons are used in this recipe (I use nitrate free smoked bacon). You can of course buy a slab of smoked bacon and cube them yourself. If you want to make a vegetarian version, you can add finely chopped mushrooms in place of bacon and even add a drop of liquid smoke if you want the smokey flavour!

  • Aromatics & Vegetables: Finely minced garlic is added to the bacon after it’s crisp and sautéd until fragrant. After, a classic mirepoix of finely diced carrot, onion and celery is added and sautéd until soft. A classic Cassoulet only uses these vegetables to flavour the broth that the beans are cooked in but I’ve retained them to add texture and body to the stew.

  • White Wine: Any dry white wine is suitable for this recipe. I use it to deglaze the pan and add acidity to help cut through the richness of the stew. You can omit it if you don’t drink alcohol and replace with a splash of vinegar.

  • Stock: Chicken stock is preferable but you can use vegetable stock if you want. Home made is best if you have but if not you can use store bought.

  • Confit Duck: To add the classic Cassoulet flavour, confit duck is added onto of the plate stew. Check out our recipe below for simple home made confit duck legs. Alternatively you can use pre confited duck legs or use sausages.


For 4 people.

  • 2 cans of 400g white beans
  • 4 confit duck legs
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 150g of smoked cubed bacon lardons
  • 300ml of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of duck fat
  • Flat leaf parsley, as required

How to Make It

  1. Place the duck fat along with the bacon lardons into a large sauté pan on a medium heat. Fry lardons until crispy and brown. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Add diced onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until soft. Add white wine and cook reduce until syrupy.

  3. Add can of beans including the liquid as well as the chicken stock. Simmer on a low heat until thick and creamy (about 20 minutes).

  4. In a separate pan, sear the confit duck legs skin side down until the skin is brown and crispy. Place into a 150c oven for 10 minutes to warm them through.

  5. Finely chop up parsley and fold it through the bean stew. Serve immediately and place the crispy duck legs on top of the stew.

Can I use sausage instead of duck?

Absolutely! Traditionally a Cassoulet would use a Toulouse sausage but any sausage (smoked or not) would work really well. You can of course use vegetarian or chicken sausages if you don’t eat meat or pork.

Can I make it vegetarian?

Yes! Replace the bacon lardons with finely diced mushrooms of your choice and replace the duck with a vegetarian sausage. You can add a drop of liquid smoke if you want to keep the smokey notes.

How long does bean stew last in the fridge?

This French bean stew will last up to 4 days in the fridge if stored in a sealed container.

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