Giant Brothy Beans
Let’s cook a pot of brothy beans! Large dried white beans simmer in a homemade vegetable broth made of aromatic vegetables and herbs. A warm bowl of brothy beans makes a delicious vegetarian meal. Here we used Royal Corona beans from Rancho Gordo, but any white beans will do.
What are Brothy Beans?
Brothy beans are beans cooked in a broth and served warm like a soup. This dish tastes a lot like chicken soup, as it has a traditional broth base. It can be made very simply with vegetable broth and beans, or dressed up with more additions and garnishes.
As a longtime vegetarian-focused site, we have posted all about beans and legumes in general. They are a wonderful plant-based source of protein. One of our favorite ways to use beans, especially on cold winter days, is to make a pot of brothy beans. Be sure to check out Gigantes Plaki – Greek Giant Beans in Tomato Sauce as well.
What are Rancho Gordo Beans?
We recommend using heirloom beans, if possible when making a pot of brothy beans. Though you can find dried beans at most supermarkets, our favorite brand is Rancho Gordo. Rancho Gordo is a renowned producer of heirloom beans, prioritizing flavor and sustainability.
Their beans, including varieties like Royal Corona, are known for their exceptional taste and texture, making them the perfect choice for the best bowl of Brothy Beans. You can order Ranco Gordo heirloom beans on their website, and you may be able to find them in smaller local retailers.
If you can’t get heirloom giant white beans, feel free to use something more accessible such as dried chickpeas or cannellini beans.
Royal Corona and Other Types of Giant White Beans
Several types of large white beans work well for making brothy beans. Here we used Royal Corona beans. These are giant runner bean that is creamy and buttery. It works beautifully in salads, soups, and of course, brothy beans!
If you can find Royal Corona beans, try them! Royal Coronas can be used in place of any white bean, but they are much bigger! Martha Rose Shulman praised them in the New York Times: “Royal Coronas are large white European runner beans that are similar to Greek Gigantes but bigger, richer, and sturdier. They are about twice the size of a lima bean and, unlike many other large white beans, the skin doesn’t slip off when you soak them.”
Other types of white beans that work well for broth beans include:
- White Lima Beans: These large white beans are smaller in size and texture to Royal Corona beans, but a fantastic substitute. They have a creamy consistency and absorb flavors beautifully.
- Cannellini Beans: Known for their mild flavor and smooth texture, Cannellini beans are a popular choice for soups and stews. They pair well with the brothy base and add a delightful creaminess to the dish. These are easier to find than heirloom varieties.
- Great Northern Beans: With a mild and nutty flavor, Great Northern beans are another suitable option. They hold their shape well during cooking, making them an excellent choice for a hearty and satisfying brothy bean dish.
- Butter Beans: Also known as large lima beans, butter beans are large, flat, and buttery in texture. They contribute a rich and velvety consistency to the broth.
- Flageolet Beans: These small, tender beans have a delicate flavor and are often used in Mediterranean cuisine. While they are not as large as Royal Corona beans, they can still work well in a brothy bean dish.
Ingredients for Brothy Beans
There are three main components to brothy beans: beans, broth, and garnishes. Feel free to adapt this basic recipe based on season, ingredients available, and preference.
Giant White Beans:
Use any dried white beans you have for making your pot of brothy beans. I love Rancho Gordo’s giant beans, and my favorite is these Royal Corona beans. They are huge, hold up very well, and are rich and creamy.
- Royal Corona, white lima, or other large white beans
The broth for cooking the beans can be flavored any way you’d like. This recipe is written using a traditional vegetable broth. However, you could use any broth you already have on hand, or make one using other ingredients such as miso, kombu, mushrooms, leeks, shallots, etc. Sometimes I prefer to leave the carrot out of this recipe and just use onion, garlic, and celery.
- Veggies: Onion, garlic, celery, carrots
- Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, bay leaves
- Salt, pepper, Parmesan rind
How to Cook Giant White Beans
Although you don’t have to soak dried beans before cooking, there are a few benefits. This step helps reduce cooking time and promotes even texture. The soaking process softens the beans, allowing them to absorb water, break down complex sugars, and become more digestible, leading to a more flavorful and evenly cooked final dish.
The recommended soaking time for dried beans is typically 8 hours or overnight. This extended soaking period allows the beans to fully rehydrate, resulting in a shorter cooking time and more evenly textured beans. If you’re short on time, a quick soak method involves bringing the beans to a boil for 2 minutes, then letting them soak, covered, for an hour before cooking.
Start by covering your dried beans with at least two inches of liquid, and ensure they are submerged for the entire cooking time. Dried beans absorb the cooking liquid slowly. Once simmering, you can leave them alone, but check on them occasionally and add more water as needed.
When to Salt
Salt should be added to dried beans when they just begin to soften, usually after they have soaked for some time and are starting to simmer on the stove. Adding salt earlier in the cooking process can toughen the bean skins and extend the overall cooking time.
Salt interacts with the cell walls of the beans, and if added too early, it can hinder the absorption of water, making the beans take longer to soften. By introducing salt when the beans are just starting to become tender, you strike a balance, ensuring the seasoning penetrates the beans while allowing them to cook to a desirable, creamy consistency.
Brothy white beans need nothing more than a little drizzle of good olive oil. However, there are ways to add even more flavor.
Customize your brothy bowl by adding wilted greens such as spinach, kale, or arugula. Simply place a handful in individual serving bowls and ladle the hot Brothy Beans over them.
2. Lemon Juice:
Brighten up the flavors by squeezing fresh lemon juice into the broth just before serving. This adds a zesty and refreshing element to the dish.
Elevate the taste with a dollop of pesto. Whether it’s classic basil pesto or a creative variation, the herbal and garlicky notes will complement the brothy beans beautifully.
4. Fresh Herbs:
Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or cilantro for a burst of color and additional herbal freshness.
For a savory finishing touch, grate some Parmesan or Pecorino cheese over the Brothy Beans. The nuttiness of the cheese enhances the overall richness of the dish. For a rich and creamy bowl of brothy beans, add room-temperature burrata.
6. Chili Onion Crunch for Heat:
Infuse a spicy kick into your Brothy Beans by adding a spoonful of chili onion crunch. The heat will add depth and excitement to each spoonful.
One of my favorite ways to add irresistible umami is to add truffle flavor. Drizzle the bowl of brothy beans with truffle oil or sprinkle with truffle salt.
8. Crusty Bread
Toasty bread is perfect for sopping up broth.
Feel free to explore and customize your Brothy Beans by incorporating these optional additions. This versatile recipe welcomes creativity and allows you to tailor the flavors to your liking.
Storing Cooked Beans
Once you’ve prepared a batch of delicious Brothy Beans, proper storage ensures you can enjoy them over an extended period. Here’s a guide on how to store cooked beans, both in the fridge and freezer:
Cooked beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Follow these steps for optimal freshness:
Allow the cooked beans to cool to room temperature before transferring them to the fridge. Place the beans in an airtight container to prevent odors from the fridge from affecting their taste. You can also store them in their cooking pot with a lid on for easy reheating.
To freeze beans, divide them into portion-sized servings before freezing. This makes it easier to thaw only the amount you need for future meals. Squeeze out excess air from the bags to minimize the risk of freezer burn. Beans last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheat the beans, covered in broth, over low heat in a saucepan on the stove or microwave in a microwave-safe container until warm.
- 1 pound dried royal corona, gigante, or white lima beans
- 1 onion, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
- 2 carrots, peeled and halved
- 2 celery stalks, halved
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
- Place the dried beans in a large bowl of water. Soak overnight if possible, or quick-soak. Drain in a colander and rinse.
- Transfer the drained soaked beans to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan rind.
- Add enough water to cover the beans and vegetables by 2 inches.
- Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a low simmer. Add the salt when the beans just begin to soften, about halfway through the cooking time. Simmer the beans and broth mixture, adding more water to cover, until the beans are tender. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours.
- Remove the large pieces of onion, carrot, celery, and herb stalks. Taste the bean broth and add more salt to taste.
- To serve your brothy beans, ladle into a bowl and top with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite fresh additions. Serve with a slice of toasted crusty bread.
The time it takes to cook dried beans completely will vary depending on the type of beans if they have been soaked, and for how long, and the age of the beans. You can make this brothy bean recipe without soaking your beans, but it will take longer (1-3 hours for the royal corona beans we used).
Flavorful Additions to Brothy Beans
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Truffle oil
- Chili onion crunch
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200