Home made ‘baked’ beans

A couple of weeks’ ago I made a pot of home made baked beans which I froze in portions.  I say ‘baked’ but this a hob-based and very simple version of an old authentic recipe – Boston baked beans. The original version (dating back to the New England pilgrims) involved a large chunk of salt pork, masses of molasses and very slow oven baking, probably over night.

This recipe is quick and easy and it’s also vegan – the smoked paprika does the job of the pork or bacon and brings out a very delicious smokiness. You can use any beans – I’ve used cannellini but haricot beans would be a good choice.

Although one reason for making my own beans was to avoid too much added salt and sugar I do think you need a bit of sweetness which is why I’ve included a teaspoon of brown sugar.

I started a new contract this week so my life has suddenly become very hectic.  The new job coincided with a heatwave (typical) and some long delays on the London tube/trains coming home. So it was very welcome last night to be able to rustle up a quick supper from the freezer and some other leftovers including green beans, Puy lentils, roasted red peppers and cold cooked pork meatballs (ok, they’re not very vegan) which I piled on a tray with a glass of wine and ate in the cool of my garden.

I soon relaxed as I looked around at all the forget-me-nots growing everywhere including it seems in just about every crack and crevice in the patio paving. A friend gave me a couple of these plants two years’ ago and they have self seeded in abundance. Some people think they’re little more than weeds but I love them and they are very bee friendly.

The recipe for the pork meatballs (made with apple and fresh sage) will be on the blog soon.


  • 4 x cans beans (eg haricots or cannellini)
  • 2 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 8 ground cloves (I grind them in a pestle and mortar)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon demerara sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onions gently until soft. Add the smoked paprika, ground cloves, soy sauce and sugar. Cook gently for about five minutes then add the canned tomatoes and tomato purée. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to the boil and turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes until the mixture is thick and well reduced. Add the beans and cook for a further 20 minutes.


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