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Vegetarian Polka Dot Stew

“Here’s a speedy and satisfying version of traditional minestrone soup. The fun polka-dot shapes of the couscous, baby carrots and black beans give this stew its name.” -Teagan O'Toole, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
  • Makes
    5 servings


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) ready-to-serve tomato soup
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese


  • In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in the couscous, carrots, tomato, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until tender and water is absorbed. Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through. Sprinkle with cheese.
Editor’s Note: You may substitute 1 cup quick-cooking barley for the couscous if desired.
Nutrition Facts
1-1/2 cups: 309 calories, 2g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 879mg sodium, 60g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 10g fiber), 14g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • DuckyD
    May 15, 2018

    Won't be making this again.

  • laecci
    Jun 27, 2017

    Turned out delicious! Both my husband and brother loved it. Im not a fan of cooked spinach so I skipped that bit but added extra cheese. I've made this about 4 times now. Soo gooood!!

  • rwippel
    Apr 2, 2013

    This recipe took seconds to make and is delicious. I couldn't believe how good and healthy it was. My husband said he liked it better the next day after the flavors married a bit. Any time I can get my husband to eat and like a vegetarian meal, is a battle won on healthy vs. husband :)

  • rkj620
    Jan 24, 2012

    This recipe is good. I cooked it in a slow cooker by putting all the ingredients in except the couscous and water. I doubled the beans and added two 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. The cooked couscous was added later.

  • Marjade
    Sep 8, 2011

    No comment left

  • thecarmasaur
    Jun 3, 2010

    I cook for a family of four twice a week... they seriously ask me to make it at least one of the nights EVERY WEEK! haha! this recipe is easy and always turns out perfect for me.i make sure to use "pearled" cous cous every time to make it more polka-dot-like.

  • bullkath
    Feb 20, 2010

    Excellent meal for a weeknight. To up the appeal for my (decidedly non-vegetarian) husband, I served this over roughly crushed tortilla chips. The fresh-grated parmesan cheese over the top is a perfect finishing touch.

  • Jodycooks2
    Feb 18, 2010

    Enjoyed this stew, but there is likely enough salt from the tomato soup that you don't need to add more. I used chicken broth to cook the couscous, so it was not vegetarian (but nice an rich) at our house. The children all enjoyed this stew as well the adults.

  • millerb68
    Dec 17, 2009

    No comment left

  • Teagan1985
    Sep 18, 2009

    No comment left