These are the best brothy white beans! Turn a pound of dry white beans into a tender, savory, all-purpose vegan protein. This is a one-pot recipe that’s versatile, simple to make, and freezer-friendly.
I’ve spent the last week trying to work up the energy to make something a little special in the kitchen. I was hoping to redeem some of my recent kitchen trials and tribulations and feel inspired about cooking again.
But is anyone really inspired with cooking lately? I’m sure the answer is yes, but I keep having conversation after conversation with people who are as tired of cooking as I am. It’s the pandemic, the monotony, the cold, the fatigue. I think most of us are craving food as comfort, but actually making that food feels onerous.
It would have been tempting to cook nothing at all, and that would have been OK. There are times when dinner toast and frozen foods make the most sense. But I knew it would feel good to stock my freezer with something, anything homemade.
These brothy white beans are the thing that I was able to make. A one-pot recipe that results in many portions of tender, plump beans swimming in a rich, savory broth.
You can serve the brothy white beans in so many ways once you make them. And you’ll definitely have plenty to stock your freezer with.
Brothy beans are just what they sound like: a big pot of beans that has been simmered in broth, rather than water.
The broth thickens as the beans cook, which gives it a concentrated savory flavor by the time the beans are ready. Thanks to some olive oil, it also develops a rich, luxurious quality—you’ll see what I mean!
The brothy white bean recipe calls for 1 pound of dry white beans. The beans can be cannellini, Great Northern, or navy beans.
A confession: I usually cook with, and use, canned beans at home. I’ve gone through phases of always soaking and cooking beans from scratch. But I become really forgetful about it, and I usually end up using canned beans from my pantry in spite of my best laid plans.
I don’t usually find that cooking beans from scratch is so much better than using canned from a taste and texture perspective. I know that it’s a minority opinion, but canned beans can be seasoned through cooking, and I like the fact that there are so many low-sodium varieties available now.
All of this said, I love the economy of cooking a pound of beans from scratch! So many meals can be created from a single, inexpensive plant-protein. And when I do cook my beans from scratch, as with these brothy white beans, I always feel a sense of accomplishment. Especially as I load container after container of cooked beans into my freezer for later use.
Yes, the recipe calls for white beans that have been pre-soaked.
There are two ways of soaking dry beans before cooking: a quick soak and an overnight soak method. Overnight soaking just means covering the beans you plan to cook in a few inches of water and allowing them to sit overnight.
Quick soaking involves bringing your beans to a rolling boil for a minute, removing them from heat, and then allowing them to sit for one hour before rinsing and using them in your recipe.
You can use either the overnight or the quick soak method for the brothy white beans recipe. I usually find it easiest to soak overnight. If I wake up in the morning and want to cook with beans, but I know that I’ll need to reserve an hour for quick soaking, I usually opt for the shortcut of canned beans instead.
This is a simple recipe. To make it, you’ll need:
The brothy white beans recipe calls for four tablespoons olive oil. It’s not a lot when you take into consideration that you’ll have at least eight servings of beans.
But the olive oil is hard-working, and it goes a long way. It’s responsible for the silky richness of the broth component in this recipe. I think that broth is what makes the beans so delightful over toast!
You can use your favorite olive oil for cooking in the recipe.
Alliums help to make the recipe more flavorful. I usually use two onions in my pot of beans, but if I happen to be working with a giant onion, I’ll use only one.
As I mentioned, you can use cannellini, Great Northern, or navy beans in the recipe. Cannellini is my preference, but I’ve prepared each one of them this way, and they all work nicely.
I haven’t yet tested this recipe with chickpeas, but I think it would work well, maybe with a slightly altered cooking time. I already know that I love braising cranberry beans, and they would also be a good bean to use here.
You can use either vegetable broth or a vegan “no-chicken” style broth for the recipe. You can use either a low-sodium version, which you’ll season more aggressively, or a regular version. Either is OK! Just adjust the salt to taste.
If you happen to make your own vegetable broth, so much the better! It’s another one of those food prep things that I just cant make a habit of. But I always feel impressed when I see homemade stock in another person’s fridge 🙂
I like to season the beans with some bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. I tie the thyme and rosemary together with twine to make a tiny, rustic bouquet garni. I like that little thyme leaves are released into the broth during cooking, so I don’t wrap my bouquet in cheesecloth.
If you don’t have any string to tie your bouquet with, you can just add fresh, roughly chopped herbs to the broth instead. I like the ease of using whole sprigs and just tying them together.
The brothy white beans couldn’t be a better investment from a meal prep standpoint. Once you make them, you can use them in so many different ways. Here are ten of my favorites:
These are just my favorite uses. I’m sure that you’ll be able to think of your own!
You can store the broth white beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. If you need to store longer, I recommend freezing options, below!
Most definitely. Because I meal prep for one person, I always freeze about half of the beans once they’ve been prepared. You could freeze them in a single, large container, or you could freeze in smaller portions (Stasher bags are great for this).
The brothy white beans will keep for up to six weeks in the freezer. I love remembering that I have one or a few servings of the beans available to defrost—such a nice alternative to scratching my head about what the next meal will be.
But they were out of the ordinary. They were richer and more flavorful than most of the beans I had tried cooking from scratch. In spite of the short ingredient list—not to mention the fact that a pot of beans is humble food to begin with—they felt like a treat.
I looked forward to eating the brothy white beans for the next few days, and I had so much fun finding places to put them. Happy to be sharing them, finally. Hope you find your own ways to enjoy them.