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Rinse beans. Combine beans and 8 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, place beans in water in pot. Cover and let soak in a cool place for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.) Drain and rinse beans. Wipe pot dry.
Heat oil in the same pot and brown lamb, half at a time; drain fat. Return all lamb to the pot. Add beans, carrots, bell pepper, onion, bouillon granules, Worcestershire, dried thyme (if using), garlic and bay leaves to the pot. Add 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.
Stir in chicken, undrained tomatoes, salt and, if using, fresh thyme. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaves. Skim fat, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.