This recipe first appeared in my cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. I originally adapted this from a beef goulash recipe in the Abel and Cole cookbook, but tweaked it and tampered with it in the way that all recipes are. Beans are cheaper than beef, financially and environmentally, and this dish is simply fine without it. I use cheap baked beans in place of haricot beans, as they are usually a third of the price of a tin of the plain ones! Eat warm on toast, with rice or stuffed in a pitta bread with lashings of crunchy lettuce for lunch. Eat from a bowl, water it down with a little more stock or tomato and enjoy as a soup, or nosh it straight from the pan in the name of ‘testing’. For a slightly Mexican twist, have it with tortillas, some grated cheese, sliced red onion and iceberg lettuce, with lime to squeeze all over.

Serves 4 at 29p each. Prices based on Sainsburys, Basics where available. Other supermarkets offer similar products at similar prices.

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, 35p (35p/400g, Basics)

1 x 400g tin of baked beans, 25p (25p/400g)

1 onion, 9p (80p/1.5kg, Basics)

1 fat clove of garlic or a generous shake of the dried stuff, 2p (35p/2 bulbs, Basics)

2 tablespoons cooking oil, 3p (£3/3l, Sainsburys own)

2 teaspoons paprika, 4p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)

1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 30p (30p/400g, Basics)

1 teaspoon (4g) Marmite, 4p (£2.50/250g)

1 vegetable stock cube, 3p (30p/10 stock cubes, Basics)

1 teaspoon sugar, >1p (80p/1kg, Fairtrade granulated white sugar)

First, drain and rinse the beans. Empty the kidney beans and the baked beans into a colander, and blast under cold water to get rid of the tinned taste, and the cheap sauce from the baked beans.

When well rinsed, set to one side. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the garlic. Place in a sauté or large frying pan with the oil and paprika, and fry on a low heat until the onion is softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, Marmite or Vegemite, crumbled stock cube, sugar and half a tin of water, and stir well. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until thickened and glossy.

Tip in the colander of rinsed beans, stir to mix well and heat through for 10 minutes. Serve, devour, have seconds and enjoy. This stew also freezes beautifully, if allowed to cool and stored in an airtight container.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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Mixed Bean Goulash recipe by Jack Monroe

Mixed Bean Goulash recipe by Jack Monroe