Ah yes, it’s time for my brothy beans recipe! A recipe that sometimes changes based on my mood, but is always low-maintenance, filled with aromatics, and delicious. And that’s because any dried beans that are slowly simmered are automatically delicious. As a pescatarian, this is the closest thing I get to chicken stock, and belive me, it’s just as good.
Brothy beans themselves are inherently comforting. Sure, I use a few personal preferences and tips and tricks to make my extra full of flavor, but no matter what, brothy beans are going to give you a cozy, healthy meal with a relatively low amount of effort.
Table of contents
- What kinds of beans I like to use for brothy beans
- How to add flavor to brothy beans
- How long does it take to make dried beans?
- Why is bean broth so delicious?
- What is the best way to store brothy beans?
- What is the best way to reheat brothy beans?
- What can I make with brothy beans?
- Recipe for this delicious gremolata topping
What kinds of beans I like to use for brothy beans
While there are SO MANY beans to choose from, I obviously like the bigger guys. Think: lima beans, gigante beans, cranberry beans. You can get them all from Rancho Gordo, which you can also find in a lot of grocery stores!
Now Rancho Gordo are heirloom beans, meaning they are usually sold the year they are grown because of the lower yield of heirloom beans. This also means they have a deeper and richer flavor than your standard bean, due to their varied colors and varieties. But the lower yield means they are more expensive. So no, you don’t need to use heirloom beans, but the often cook faster and have a better flavor and texture, so they are always what I recommend!
How to add flavor to brothy beans
When I first started making beans, I was skeptical about if they would be *that* much more flavorful than what I was used to. But wow, can you really inject a bean with a ton of flavor, especially when you are making at-home brothy beans with heirloom beans.
Not only do the beans’s starches seep into the broth to make it rich and almost thick (more on that later), but the ingredients you add can make all the difference. Adding flavor to brothy beans is just a must. If you boiled them on their own, how sad would that be? Here are a few ways I like to infuse brothy beans:
- Aromatics – think garlic and onion (my two non-negotiables), but seeds and spices also count here!
- Fresh Herbs – while yes, these fall into the aromatics category, I feel the need to call them out specifically. Herbs cook down into the beans, adding their own unique flavor that usually stays behind for days (especially when the herbs fall off their stems and become happy members of the bean pot!)
- Bay Leaves – These are soup’s secret weapon. They add a subtle, almost nutty and earthy taste to any broth, and are an absolute must when crafting a bean broth.
- Parmesan Rinds – fatty elements are often overlooked, and parmesan rinds help bulk up the starchy bean broth, adding even more richness to the beans and the broth.
- Finish with Fresh Ingredients: Just before serving, stir in fresh ingredients like chopped herbs, scallions, or a drizzle of high-quality olive oil. It always adds a bit of freshness. I have more information on the salsa verde I like to serve with this in a section below!
How long does it take to make dried beans?
The cooking time for dried beans can vary depending on the type of beans and the method of preparation. In general, here’s a basic guide:
- Soaking Time: I used to say you could skimp on soaking, but now I think it’s the most important thing. It cuts your bean cooking time and helps with digestion. Soaking typically takes anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. You can do an overnight soak by placing the beans in a bowl of water before you go to bed, then prep the beans in the morning!
- Cooking Time: Once soaked, the cooking time for dried beans can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more, depending on the type of beans. Younger beans cook faster, while older beans take a bit longer.
- Testing for Doneness: The beans are done when they are tender but not mushy. Test a few beans by taking a spoonful and doing a bite test. Make sure to test a few! Sometimes a bean can lead you astray.
Keep in mind that older beans may take longer to cook, and the altitude at which you’re cooking can also affect the cooking time. So testing is crucial to knowing when they are ready!
Why is bean broth so delicious?
I call bean broth my “chicken stock” for a few reasons:
- Flavor Absorption: Beans have a remarkable ability to absorb flavors from the liquids they are cooked in. As they simmer, the broth becomes infused with the natural flavors of the beans and any seasonings or aromatics added during the cooking process. This is why I add salt early in the process.
- Umami Richness: While umami is a subjective taste, it is the fifth basic taste sensation responsible for a savory or meaty flavor. Beans create natural umami, and as beans cook, their umami compounds are released into the broth, adding richness and depth.
- Thickening Properties: As beans cook, they release starches into the broth, contributing to a slightly thicker and heartier texture. This can add a satisfying mouthfeel to the broth, while giving it depth and richness. It’s the closest thing plant-based eaters get to stock, so I cherish it!
What is the best way to store brothy beans?
I make my beans for the week, so I like to store them in the fridge. I usually keep them in a large bowl or tupperware with a tight-fitting lid, this is so I can just ladle out whatever portion of beans I need throughout the week! The oil from the beans might solidify while in the fridge, but don’t worry, a simple reheat will fix that!
What is the best way to reheat brothy beans?
If you are heating them up for a quick lunch, or using them as the base of another recipe (see below), I’ve always found the best way to reheat beans is to add them to a pot over medium heat and bring them up to where they start to steam, stirring occasionally. They will be piping hot, but the aroma is always worth it.
And when in doubt, there’s always the good ol’ microwave, which is fine in a pinch!
What can I make with brothy beans?
I like to use beans the same way I’d use canned beans! OR I keep the broth (which you should, it’s delicious) and add a hunk of ricotta and some chopped-up herbs. Here are a few other bean thought-starters:
Recipe for this delicious gremolata topping
And yes! I promised you the gremolata for this. I usually make these ~by feel~ so feel free to mix and match what you have. But here is what I make for a delicious topping to these brothy beans!
- 1/2 cup fresh chives
- 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon non-pareil capers, drained
- 1 lemon, for zest and juice
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Finely chop the chives and parsley and add them to a medium bowl. Grate in the garlic cloves. Chop the capers and add them in as well. Grate in half a teaspoon of lemon zest and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and season with more lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired. If you want a looser gremolata, you can add more olive oil, but I like to keep it chunky.
And that’s everything for this brothy beans recipe!
And of course feel free to leave any questions, comments or reviews! This is the best place to reach me, and I’d love to hear from you <3
- 1 large pot or dutch oven
- 1 pound dried beans of choice large white lima beans are my favorite
- 1 small yellow onion halved lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes quarter this if you don’t like spice
- 6 sprigs of fresh oregano
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic halved crosswise
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind optional, but delicious
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the beans with water to cover by 2-3 inches; get ready for them to expand as they soak. Cover and soak for 6 hours or up to overnight. If needed, add more water to keep the beans covered. When you’re ready to cook, drain the beans in a colander and rinse out the Dutch oven.
- Return the beans to the pot and nestle in the onion, pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, Parmesan rind (if using). Pour over 1/2 cup of olive oil and 10 cups water. Bring to a soft boil, then add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Check for doneness, give the broth a taste and add another 1 tablespoon salt, but scale up or down to your tastes.
- Cover and cook until the beans are tender and creamy, without any shrively skin or tough bite, another 20 to 60 minutes, checking the bean’s doneness every now and then. Note that the less time they have to soak, the longer they will take to cook. Test a few beans before you determine a pot is done, sometimes they can vary!
- Once the beans are cooked through, remove the pot from the heat. Scoop out the onion, oregano and rosemary sprigs (it’s ok if the leaves stay behind), bay leaves, garlic skin (again, ok if the cloves stay behind!) and Parmesan rind (if using).
- Now your beans are ready for use!