This brothy beans recipe is pure comfort. There are few things that remind me more of my dad than a pot of beans bubbling away on the stove. The can't-be-rushed process, the aroma, the transformation of a humble ingredient into an elegant meal - it all makes me think of him in the kitchen and it is the epitome of what I love about cooking. These beautiful cranberry beans are dressed up just a bit, but they still have all the humble simplicity I love about dried beans. Pile these brothy beans with fennel and parmesan onto some garlicky, olive oil sourdough toasts, finish with a spritz of lemon and you've got the most satisfying, hearty-yet-light meal.
This Brothy Beans Recipe can be made with any dried bean you love.
I chose to use cranberry beans, also called borlotti beans, in this recipe. Why? Because they are beautiful and I had a bag in my pantry. I grew this variety in my garden the last two years, but we ate them as fresh, young green beans. Maybe one year I'll muster up the courage and ambition to grow enough of them to make drying worthwhile. Until then I'll continue to buy them online.
As for the broth, I love the flavor combination of fresh fennel and parmesan. Roasted fennel with parm is one of my favorite things, so why not take those same flavors and add them to this broth? A few seasonally appropriate herbs from my fall garden, some shallots and garlic, et voilà, an incredibly flavorful pot of brothy beans with like zero effort. Normally I would add celery and maybe a carrot, but I really wanted the fennel and parm flavors to shine. And I should mention, I don't love raw fennel but the flavor completely transforms after it's cooked. Your broth will not taste like licorice, I promise.
Can I make brothy beans with canned beans?
Yes, absolutely. You will reduce the water by half and reduce the cooking time to about an hour. Basically you just want the broth to have time to infuse with all of those delicious aromatics and for the beans to soften a bit.
Ingredients for Brothy Beans
For the Brothy Beans:
- 2 cups dried beans
- 1 parmesan cheese rind
- 1 bulb of fresh fennel, trimmed and halved
- 1 head of garlic, halved
- 2 shallots, halved
- a few sprigs of fresh sage
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 cups water
- Sourdough toasts
- lemon wedges
- extra virgin olive oil
- chopped fresh herbs
Parmesan rinds are like the secret flavor weapon of the recipe world. They add so much flavor to soups, stews, tomato sauces, and in this case - brothy beans! Anytime you buy parm, look for one with the rind on. Save them and squirrel them away in your freezer until you need them. Some stores even sell little bags of rinds too.
How to serve Brothy Beans
Now, here's the best part: When your beans are done, take a few slices of sourdough bread and toast them in a skillet with plenty of olive oil on both sides. When nice and toasty, remove from the pan and rub with a piece of garlic. Place these toasts in a bowl and ladle over some of the beans. Drizzle with olive oil, spritz with fresh lemon, and dig in.
Yes you can use chicken broth instead of water to cook your brothy beans. Keep in mind the beans will not be vegetarian if you choose to do this.
Covering the beans while they simmer will prevent evaporation and result in a more tender bean. If you simmer them uncovered they will be firmer and the water or broth will evaporate more quickly so keep an eye and top them off with more water or broth as needed.
I prefer a smaller white bean for brothy beans that is very tender when cooked such as navy beans, cannellini or white kidney beans, cranberry or borlotti beans are all good choices but you really can use almost any bean you enjoy eating. You can even use canned beans to make brothy beans, you will just want to reduce the liquid by half and reduce the cooking time to about 1 hour until the aromatics have softened and the beans have softened a bit.
I hope you'll give my brothy beans recipe a try. Let me know if you do by leaving a comment and rating below! Also, tag me on Instagram @wild.thistle.kitchen - I love seeing you all make my recipes. xo - AnitaPrint