Put beans in a large bowl with 1 1/2 pints water, cover and leave to soak overnight.
Peel and slice onion, peel and finely chop garlic, peel and cut carrots into chunks, cut potatoes into chunks.
Put beans and soaking water into a large pan with the prepared vegetables and add tomatoes, tomato puree, lentils, pearl barley and herbs and spices.
Add enough water to cover, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
(Note: I make mine in a pressure cooker, cooking for 25 minutes at 15 lb pressure. If you do this, ensure you follow the instructions for your cooker carefully.)
When the beans are cooked, remove the bay leaves. Mix the flour, suet and chives in a bowl and add enough cold water to make a slightly sticky dough.
Place tablespoons of the dumpling mixture carefully on the surface of the stew (this amount of mixture should make 6).
Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes, turning the dumplings over for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
(Note: if using a pressure cooker, DO NOT pressure cook the dumplings, just put the lid on.)
Makes about 6 good-sized portions with a dumpling in each.
You can freeze this stew in individual (1 pint) microwavable containers. Microwave each frozen portion for about 8 to 10 minutes to serve.
very good. I gave it 4stars because I changed it to my preference. I don't like mushy vegetables so I cooked the beans in the pressure cooker separately because 25mins was too long for the veg. I fried the garlic and onions in a little olive oil before adding the rest of the ingredients and added a teaspoon of marmite instead of the salt to give more depth of flavor. as soon as the pot was simmering with the beans and veg, I added the dumplings and cooked everything for 20mins. the vegetables were perfectly cooked with the dumplings. - 27 Mar 2013