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Stu’s Stew: Shrimp with White Beans in a Lemony Broth

Stu’s Stew: Shrimp with White Beans in a Lemony Broth

Want a meal that’s bright, comforting and easy? It looks and tastes so gourmet, but the most time-consuming part of this recipe is just zesting the lemon. And maybe prepping the leeks—if you even decide to use them. 

Cans of beans and pantry seasonings, frozen shrimp and a few bits of produce and you’ve got dinner. We spooned up the luscious, lemony broth as fast as we could, stopping just long enough to grab a shrimp in between each taste.

A hearty bowl of lemony shrimp and white bean soup, steaming with delicious aroma, sits on a wooden table.

Tips to make Lemony Shrimp with White Beans

  • Because this recipe comes together pretty fast, I recommend getting out all of your ingredients, tools and equipment before you start cooking. Open your cans of beans, check that your zester and juicer are clean and ready to go, pick your soup pot and set it on the stove. If you are making broth from cubes or paste, do that early.
  • Once your onions are about finished cooking, it’s almost ready to serve. Have your serving bowls out and your bread out of the oven. Especially, you don’t want to overcook the shrimp or let the beans sit too long in the broth. Heat just long enough to let all flavors combine and heat through, about three minutes or so.

What You’ll Need

The following is a list of ingredients you’ll want to have handy. Scroll down to the recipe below it for the full measurements and instructions.

  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth. I reconstituted (brothified?) the Better Than Boullion I had on hand, a combination of vegetable and chicken flavors. If that’s what you are using, stir 1 heaping tablespoon of bouillon paste into very hot water, whisk and then add to your stew pot. Full disclosure: I added more than a heaping tablespoon because I love this stuff, but I have to be careful or it can make the whole thing too salty.
  • Shrimp. Frozen, raw, deveined, tail-off, and peeled—about 1 pound. (Mine were too large, Jumbo size; see our graph of Shrimp Counts. Medium size shrimp fits better on the spoon.) Because I encourage this recipe as a weeknight delight, use what you have on hand, so if it’s cooked already, great, just put them in the hot broth just for a minute, only long enough to warm them through or they’ll overcook.
  • 1 large, whole lemon. While I like the ease and convenience of bottled lemon juice, this isn’t the time to use it. This uses zest and juice from one whole lemon, and the bright, fresh flavor pulls everything together.
  • 2 cans of white beans: I had one can of cannellini and one of navy beans in the pantry. You can use butter beans, great northern beans or a mix of them. You’ll drain AND rinse these through a colander before adding to the pot. Bean juice causes a cloudy broth, so you will rinse well and not add them until the end because you don’t want them to cook, only get warmed through.
  • Onion. For the fresh onion flavor, use what you have on hand, like one large yellow or white onion; or 4 to 5 lengths of green onion/scallion or one length of leek (you’ll use white and green parts); or three sliced shallots. I used a combination of leeks, yellow onion and shallots (I bought the leeks just for this recipe but I used the shallots leftover from another recipe.)
  • Butter and olive oil. You’re cooking onions in the oil and adding butter for the fast-sauté shrimp.
  • Paprika. 1 teaspoon of paprika, either “sweet” or smoked will work. I used sweet paprika.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic is the best, but if you are trying to save time like I always am, reach for the jar of minced garlic. Use 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic from the jar, or three fresh garlic cloves minced, grated or chopped. 
  • Parsley. Use 1 T dried parsley leaves (not ground). You can use fresh if it’s on hand, but I wouldn’t buy it special just for this recipe. For fresh, chop first then double the measure of dried.
  • Black pepper. A couple turns for the marinade and some over each bowl, for serving. 
  • Salt. You can use kosher salt or table salt. For the shrimp marinade, you’ll need ¼ teaspoon, and possibly more to taste. 
  • Fresh thyme. For garnish, completely optional. 
  • Bread. French baguette or loaf of your preferred crusty bread. I’ll say it’s optional but it really isn’t. Buttery and air-fryer crisp—you can thank me later.
A white bowl filled with lemony shrimp and white bean stew with a slice of garlic bread sits next to the bowl on the plate.

The bottom line

The “Stu” part of this Stu’s Stew recipe is named after my daughter’s bf. He doesn’t like shrimp, and we are hoping to turn him onto it with this great recipe. (Say hi to Stu!) The chunk of crusty bread is an important part of the dish: buttery, crisp, and if you’re fancy, cut on the bias so you can scoop a shrimp up.

Adapted and inspired by The New York Times recipe by Sue Li.

Lemon Shrimp Stew with White Beans

Lemon Shrimp Stew with White Beans

Yield: 8 servings


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1.5 c of onions: leeks, scallions, shallots, yellow or white onion or any combination. Pictured: Leek, yellow onion, shallots
  • 1 large, whole lemon: For about 1 T of zest and 2 T of fresh juice
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 lb of Medium-sized shrimp—frozen, raw, deveined, peeled, tail-off. Pictured: Jumbo shrimp
  • 2 15-oz cans of white beans, any variety. Pictured: Cannellini and navy
  • 3 c vegetable or chicken broth, or a combination

For shrimp marinade:

  • 1 T lemon zest
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t black pepper
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t minced garlic or 3 finely chopped or grated fresh garlic cloves


  1. Prepare the onions: If using leeks or scallions, cut off the tough, white end, separate the green leaves, wash under running water, and pat dry. Cut lengthwise then snip with shears or chop into small pieces, then add to the large pot with olive oil. For other onions, peel and slice thinly, then add to pot. Set an onion timer for 10 minutes on medium heat and cook, stirring often, until translucent. Turn down the heat if they start to brown.
  2. While onions are cooking: Zest all of the lemon and set zest aside. Then cut and juice the lemon. Set juice aside. Place colander in sink and drain all the beans, rinsing them well with cold running water, then leave the colander in the sink to drain. 
  3. Preheat the air fryer for the bread, 400F. 
  4. Make marinade. In the medium glass bowl, combine all lemon zest, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Shrimp will thaw as it sits in the marinade. Set aside.
  5. Add bread to air fryer.
  6. When the onion timer goes off, add the two tablespoons of butter to the pot with onions, stirring so it melts, bubbles and browns slightly. 
  7. Add shrimp and all marinade to the pot. The small shrimp will cook fast; use tongs to toss together the butter, onions and shrimp for about one minute.
  8. To the shrimp and onions, add the broth, the drained beans, lemon juice, and parsley. Gently stir with wooden spoon. Taste and add salt as desired. 
  9. Heat through on medium high, about five minutes, watching carefully and stirring to ensure it doesn’t boil. Then turn off the heat—it’s time to eat!
  10. Ladle into serving bowls, making sure each bowl gets plenty of beans and shrimp; garnish with thyme leaves as desired, and offer hot buttered bread on the side.

Did you make this recipe?

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